Pete Townshend’s 3rd solo album was a divisive record; many critics called it pretentious, over-thought, and an “ambitious failure”.  But it contains at least two Townshend masterpieces, including “The Sea Refuses No River”, a song with deep spiritual meaning to Townshend.  This episode, we explore this eloquent, graceful classic.

“The Sea Refuses No River” (Pete Townshend) Copyright 1982 Eel Pie Publishing Limited

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Music can inspire, music can unite; it can challenge, it can enlighten, it can heal. Here on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, we don’t take music for granted. On this podcast, we take an in depth look at an individual song to discover what goes into making a song work. I’m your host, Brad Page, here the Pantheon Podcast Network where each episode, we explore the arrangements, the performances and the production that make a song great.

On today’s edition of the show, we’re taking a look at a song by a man who I think is one of the greatest songwriters in history. A man who is not only one of the most electric live performers you’d ever see, but a brilliant composer, writer, and a visionary, and one of my favorite guitar players, too. This is Pete Townshend with “The Sea Refuses No River”.

Pete Townshend is, of course, the primary songwriter, guitarist and sometimes vocalist for The Who, one of the greatest and most important bands of all time. But by 1982, their legendary drummer, Keith Moon, had died. The band was struggling to find a place in the post punk, new wave landscape, and Townshend was disillusioned with, well, everything. He had left his family the year before and went on a binge of drugs and alcohol. He eventually cleaned himself up and went back to his family.

While all of this was going on, he was working on his third solo album, which he named “All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes”. He would later say he should have won the “Stupid Title of the Year Award” for that one.

Considering everything that was going on in his life, it’s no wonder that the songs on this album are deeply introspective. And though they incorporate sounds and approaches that were contemporary at the time, none of the songs were recorded with rock or pop radio or MTV in mind.

When he played the finished album to his record company, they were dismayed. They didn’t hear any hits. But Townshend wasn’t writing for hits. He was pursuing the path he’d started on his last solo album, “Empty Glass”, and the previous album by The Who, “Face Dances”.

He was always literate, but these songs were the most wordy he’d ever written. It’s Townshend at his most poetic. To many fans and critics, it was a bit much. It was considered to be pretentious– like, really pretentious. And some tracks are more successful than others. But I think when these songs really work, it’s magical when the music and the lyrics gel really come together. I think these songs have real emotional impact, and on this track, a spiritual impact, too.

The album features a huge band and some great players, including Tony Butler on bass, Mark Brzezicki on drums; both of those guys played with Big Country. Simon Phillips also plays drums on this record. Honestly, I’m not sure which one of them plays drums on this track. You’ve also got Virginia Astley on keyboards, John Lewis on synthesizer, Peter Hope Evans on harmonica– he plays a big part in this song. Jody Linscott on percussion, Poli Palmer on tuned percussion. Chris Stanton plays some additional keyboards. And Pete Townshend plays all the guitars, some keyboards and the lead vocals. The brass arrangement was by Anne Odell.

The album was produced by Chris Thomas and the song was written by Pete Townshend and Alan Rogan. It’s one of the few songs I can think of where Townshend shares a writing credit.

Okay, let’s get into the song. Peter Hope Evans harmonica is the focal point, and John “Poli” Palmer, who was in the band Family, is adding some accents on something like a Glockenspiel.


There’s also a nice bass part going on underneath, played by Tony Butler from the band Big Country. Then there’s a short drum fill and we’re into the first verse.


There’s a guitar in there playing choppy staccato chords, followed by a sustaining ringing chord. That is classic Pete Townshend -style guitar playing.


The verses open on a minor chord, which gives it a darker feel. But then after a couple of lines, it shifts to a more buoyant melody.


And right before the next part of the verse, there’s some guitar feedback that fades in. Let’s listen to the rest of that verse.


The music sort of pauses for a breath there. And then we’re into the first chorus.


“The sea refuses no river”. Townshend found the quote in the Oxford Book of Proverbs. Actually, I read that Pete’s daughter found it and he really liked it and wrote the song based around it. He’s using it as a spiritual metaphor. Every river, no matter how pure and clean, or dirty and contaminated, every river ends up in the same sea. You can call it the afterlife, you could call it heaven, call it space or the universe… no matter how great or how flawed you are, we all end up in the same place. We’re all individual drops that make up that ocean. It’s a beautiful idea, and I think it’s one of Townsend’s most powerful vocals. It’s a great performance. You can really feel the passion in his voice.

The harmonica melody returns…

I like the drum part here. Let’s bring up the drums in the mix.

“The sea refuses no river, we’re polluted now but in our hearts, still clean.” As I said, this is one of Pete’s best vocal performances. He really delivers on this song. So let’s bring the vocals to the front for this chorus.


This leads us into the guitar solo section, played by Pete Townshend, over some great instrumental backing by the band.


The bass and drums are laying down a nice groove here. Let’s check that out.


That leads directly into a series of big, crashing chords. Dramatic, almost orchestral. This is the kind of big moment that Townshend and The Who did better than anyone else.


More guitar from Pete. Nice use of feedback.


Let’s hear what the bass and drums are doing under this section.


For the next verse, they reel it in dynamically. After that dramatic buildup from the solo, they get a little softer for the next few lines.


Compared to the previous sections, the instrumentation here is very sparse. Just guitar and drums, maybe some piano in the background.


Let’s hear the instrumental tracks under the vocals. With more of the band playing here, check out the way the bass and the drums are playing off of each other and how all the other instruments are layering their simple individual parts. That, when it’s all put together, provides a really lush surrounding for the vocals. This is a great arrangement.

Now let’s add the vocals back in and listen to how it all works together.


And from there we head into the last two choruses.


Pete’s vocals reach their apex here. I love the way he sings this.


You can hear Pete play some harmonics on his guitar and wiggle them a bit with his whammy bar. Then he’s going to hit a few heavy chords—Who-style– that kick off the final chorus.

There’s a nice little guitar fill there, followed immediately by a bass guitar lick. It’s just another example of the band interplay here and what great players they are.


Pete Townshend “The Sea Refuses No River”

Townshend has released a handful of solo albums; the last one was Psycho Derelict in 1993 and of course, a dozen classic albums with The Who.

Whether with The Who or solo, I think all of these albums are worth listening to. There are few, if any, artists whose work is more significant or as meaningful as Pete Townshend.

Thanks for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. We are part of the Pantheon Podcast Network, where you’ll find a ton of other shows, all dedicated to the artists, the records and the history of the music we love.

This show will be back in about two weeks with another new episode. You can hear all of our previous shows on our website, or on your favorite source for listening to podcasts. You can keep in touch with us on Facebook, just look for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. You can post reviews or comments on, and if you really want to support the show, tell people about it. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.

Thanks again. And remember, as Pete Townshend says, “Whether starving or ill, or strung out on some pill, just because you own the land, there’s no unique hand that plugs the dam. The sea refuses no river.”


When it comes to boundaries, Fanny faced them all: racial, gender & sexual discrimination were all obstacles that stood in their way. Fanny may be forgotten by many today, but they were one of the most important all-female bands in rock history, paving the way for groups like The Go-Go’s, Bangles, and The Runaways. It’s time to acknowledge the groundbreaking history made by these 4 women and the great music they left behind.

“Cat Fever” (Nickey Barclay) Copyright 1971

— There’s never been a better time than right now to follow this show, so you never miss an episode. And while you’re at it, check out the other fine Rock Podcasts on the Pantheon Podcast network!

Welcome, my friends, to the “I’m In Love With That Song” Podcast, your conduit to the greatest songs in rock history, at least as I see it. My name is Brad Page; I’m your host here on the Pantheon Podcast Network, where each episode of the show I pick one of my favorite songs and we examine it together as we try to grasp what makes a song great.

Before the Go Go’s, before the Bangles, before The Runaways, there was Fanny, the first all female band to release an album on a major label. They were pioneers, groundbreakers and hold a special, important place in rock history. Yet 99% of people have never heard of them.

Well, on this edition of the podcast, we’re going to listen to Fanny. This is a song from their second album, “Charity Ball”, released in 1971. It’s a song called “Cat Fever”.

There were other all-female bands before Fanny: Goldie and the Gingerbreads were one; the Pleasure Seekers, which featured Susie Quattro and her sisters. But Fanny was the first to release a full album on a major label, not just singles. And I think more importantly, they were the first to present themselves as a real rock band. Not a novelty, not as sex objects, not as a gimmick–
to paraphrase Classic Rock magazine, not as jailbait fantasy– but as real musicians.

If you’d like to learn more about Fanny, there is an excellent documentary called “Fanny: Rhe Right
To Rock” that came out in 2021. It’s available on Amazon now. I really recommend it. That’s probably your best introduction to Fanny, but I’ll cover some of the basics here.

June and Jean Millington were born in the Philippines to an American father and a Filipina mother. They moved to California in 1961. June was about 13 years old then. Jean was 12.

Being biracial, they faced their share of racism and prejudice, and music became both a refuge and a path to acceptance for the two sisters. June began playing guitar and Jean picked up the bass. By the time they were 15-16, they had formed a band, the Sveltes, and started gigging regularly.

Lots of band members came and went, but one who stuck around the longest was another girl of Filipina descent, Brie Berry. Members continued to come and go, and even the Millington sisters left for a while, and the band morphed into Wild Honey, featuring Alice DeBuhr on drums. Eventually, June and Jean rejoined Wild Honey and they moved to LA to try to find a recording contract.

They were spotted one night at the Troubadour by the secretary for producer Richard Perry and he
signed them to Reprise Records.

There was one piece of the puzzle missing, though. They were looking for a keyboard player with a good voice… and they found one in Nikki Barkley. She added a harder edge to the band. In fact, even though Nikki was the piano player, her songs tended to rock the hardest. She really added a lot to the band.

They released their first album, the self titled “Fanny” album, in December 1970, produced by Richard
Perry. Here’s a song from that album. It’s called “Seven Roads”.

A year and a half later they released their second album, “Charity Ball” in July 1971, also produced by Richard Perry. This is my personal favorite Fanny album, I think it’s their strongest collection of songs with great performances from all four members. This is a track from that album, it’s called “Place In The Country”.

About six months after that, their third album came out in February 1972 called “Fanny Hill”. This one was recorded in Abbey Road Studios. Again produced by Richard Perry and engineered by the legendary Geogg Emmerich. It’s another strong album. In fact, some people say that this is their best LP. Here’s a song from “Fanny Hill” called “Borrowed Time”.

In February 1973, a year after that last album, they released album number four, “Mother’s Pride”, this time produced by Todd Rungren. Here’s one from that album– this one’s called “I’m Satisfied”.

Through all of this the band was always working hard, but in many ways treading water. They were actually a little bit more successful in the UK than the US, but they had yet to have a bona fide hit. The record company and management put pressure on them to be more glam, to sex it up– something that no one in the band was really comfortable with, especially June. And later that year, in 1973, June quit and shortly after, Alice left too. Jean and Nikki kept on going, though, and they brought in Patty Quattro on guitar, susie Quattro’s older sister, and Brie Brant, now Brie Howard after her second marriage, who had played drums for Fanny way back before their first album, rejoined the band as their drummer.

They signed a new deal with Casablanca Records and released their fifth and final album, 1974’s “Rock and Roll Survivors”. They released the song “Butterboy” as a single and it actually reached number 29 on the US charts, their biggest success so far. But by then it was too late. The band had already broken up.

There are a bunch of great Fanny songs that I could have picked for this episode, but I chose this one because I think this shows off the strengths of all four band members. So let’s go back to 1971 and their second album, “Charity Ball”. This song is called “Cat Fever”.

It was written by Nikki Barkley, produced by Richard Perry and it features Nikki Barkley on keyboards, june Millington on guitar, jean Millington on bass and Alice Debur on drums. June, Jean and Nikki would all take lead vocals depending on the song; on this track, Nikki handles the lead vocal and June and Jean sing backup.

The song begins with one of the girls, probably Nikki calling out “fever!” in the right channel and then the piano kicks things off.


Before we get into the verse, let’s break that down a little bit. Nikki Barkley’s piano part is the driving force of the song and Une & Jean play variations of that same riff on guitar and bass. June’s guitar is panned more to the left, while Nikki’s piano is weighted to the right, and Alice is just powering forward on drums.

I love Jean’s sliding bass notes and the interplay with the drums there.


That brings us into the first verse and Nikki’s lead vocal


Let’S listen to the instrumentation behind the vocal during the verse here. It’s Nikki’s piano that is really propelling the song. June is playing some simple power chords in the right channel, leaving plenty of room for the keyboards and the vocal without stepping on any of it. But she does throw in a few nice accents occasionally.


Now for the next section, the groove shifts into double time.


We’ve talked about standard or regular time versus double-time versus half-time on this podcast before, but it’s probably worth a quick explanation again. The change is most noticeable when you’re listening to the drums and it’s probably easiest to explain if we look at the drum parts.

This song has a tempo of around 140 beats per minute. That’s fairly fast, actually.

Here’s the drum beat of this song in what would consider the standard or regular time.


And here’s the part that they play at double-time.


It feels faster, but it’s not. They maintain the same tempo, 140 beats per minute, but you’re hearing the snare drum and the kick drum twice as often, so it feels faster. Double-time can give you the sense of a runaway train sometimes. It’s a great dramatic effect in a song and Fanny uses it really well here. Let’s go back and listen to the verse again for that transition between regular time and double time.


Before we move on, I want to talk about Nikki Barkley’s voice. I really like her voice. And there are certain words or phrases where she just spits them out with this mix of attitude and playfulness that I just really like. Listen in particular to the way she delivers the word “claim”:


Here comes the second verse. I think this is either Nikki and Jean singing together or Nikki doubled her vocal part. I’m not sure which, but let’s listen to this verse.


I like the lyrics there. “It isn’t whether you can play guitar, believe me– it’s whether you make the


After the riff there, June is going to take a guitar solo. I think she might be playing slide on the first couple of phrases and then she tosses in some tasty “chicken picking” licks. June was a pretty versatile guitar player.


And now Nikki’s gonna let it rip on the piano before they hit the third and final verse.


They come out of that solo section into an extended buildup. June plays a nice ascending guitar like here, building some expectation before they launch into that third verse.


Let’s go back and listen to the bass and the drums during this part of the verse because Jean and Alice are really laying down a nice groove here.


Nice little drum fill here by Alice.


And that brings us to the last lines of the last verse. “Because I believe I’m gonna fade away, they’ll be coming for me any day, there’s nothing more I can do or say.”


Nice bit of vocal harmonizing there.


Let’s play it through to the end.


They are all jamming together great here– the guitar licks, the piano part, the bass and the drums. You can tell what a great live band they were.


Fanny – “Cat Fever”

Fanny were groundbreakers and an important band, and not just because they were an “all girl” band. Jean and June Millington were Filipino women in a field severely lacking in any women of color. And both June and Alice DeBuhr were gay at a time when there were very few out musicians, and so, like many, they were kind of forced to hide who they really were.

Nothing about being in Fanny was easy. But they all survived it.

June Millington would continue to play and perform. In 1987, she founded the Institute for Musical Arts in Goshen, Massachusetts, a nonprofit teaching and performing center with a recording studio. Its mission is to support women and girls in the music business.

Alice de Burr worked behind the scenes in the marketing department for various record labels, and she was very involved in the reissues of all the Fanny albums on the Real Gone music label that came out a few years ago.

After leaving Fanny, Nikki Barclay released one solo album in 1976 and then pretty much quit the music business. I don’t know all the details, but she basically doesn’t seem to want to have anything to do with Fanny, and she declined to participate in the recent reunions and in the documentary.

That documentary which I mentioned before, is called “Fanny: The Right to Rock”. They had finished recording a sort of comeback album called “Fanny Walked the Earth” and were just about to finish filming the documentary and go on tour when Jean Millington had a stroke.

Though Jean hadn’t been as active in the music business as her sister, she never stopped playing bass. But the stroke affected the right side of her body and she’s unable to use her right hand. So for now, at least, her wonderful bass playing has been silenced. But those Fanny albums are still out there, yhe documentary is out there, the music is still there to experience and celebrate.

If you want to hear more, go on YouTube right now. Go on YouTube and search for Fanny and watch two of the clips from their performances on “Beat Club”. Watch them play “Blind Alley” and their version of “Ain’t That Peculiar”. They are fantastic. Like many bands from this era, their studio albums never captured just how great they were live, and these two clips will knock you out.

Thanks for joining me on this episode, I hope you enjoyed it. There’s more coming. Another edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song: podcast will be here in about two weeks, right here on the Pantheon Podcast network, and all of our previous shows are available on our website, or in your favorite podcast app. Just search for us.

If you’d like to support the show. A, positive review is always helpful, but it’s even better if you share this show with your friends and tell people about it. You are clearly a smart discerning listener, so your recommendation carries a lot of weight. I thank you in advance.

I’ll meet you back here soon. Until then, go explore the catalog of Fanny and great songs like “Cat Fever”.

Vinyl records have made quite a comeback in recent years, entrancing new listeners and old fans all over again. “In The Groove” is a brand-new book, hot off the press, that’s a celebration of the vinyl record and the artwork & technology that surround it, as well as the record stores and dedicated fans that have built a community around buying, collecting and listening to them. On this episode, I’m joined by the man who put the book together, Dennis Pernu, to discuss this beautiful tome that should be on every fan’s bookshelf.


Welcome back, music fans & fiends, to another edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, part of the Pantheon family of podcasts. I’m your host, Brad Page, and I admit it– I’m a physical media guy. Not really a fan of streaming and MP3 files. I’ve owned my share of cassettes and 8-tracks, and I still have a big library of CD’s. But my love affair with music began with the 12”vinyl record– the LP. There’s nothing like holding a well designed album cover in your hands while you’re listening to the record. And I’m glad to see people discovering and experiencing that again as vinyl has had a resurgence in the last few years, it’s great.

And whether you’re just getting into vinyl now or you’re an old timer like me, there’s a new book that I think everyone should check out. It’s called “In The Groove: The Vinyl Record and Turntable Revolution”. The book is really a celebration of everything about the LP, from its origins through its history, the equipment that it’s played on, the cover art that often becomes as iconic as the music inside it, the record stores that sold them and became places of community, and the community itself, the people who’ve made these records part of their lives.

This is a brand new book, it’s just hitting the shelves now and I really loved it. The man who’s really the brainchild behind this book is Dennis Pernu at Motorbooks. And so I thought I’d invite Dennis onto the podcast to talk a little bit about “In The Groove”, because I believe that the history of modern music is the history of the record album– and it’s all here in this book. So, here’s my conversation with Dennis Purnu about “In The Groove”:

BRAD: All right, well, thanks so much for joining me for this episode of the podcast. I was lucky enough to get a copy of the book, I have it right here in my hands. I really enjoyed it, and so I kind of wanted to get you to talk a little bit about it.  First, where did the idea of the book come from?

DENNIS: Well, the book was something that our publisher, Zach Miller and I, kind of brewed up. With a lot of publishers, they rely on authors approaching them with book ideas. But I would say that probably 90% of what we do at Motorbooks is stuff that we dream up in house, and then go out and find people to create the content for it. So, I mean, it just basically came out of one of our Monday morning conversations, kind of saying, “hey, we should do a book on vinyl”.

BRAD: And the book really is a celebration, I think, of everything that’s great about vinyl records. And you really cover all the bases in the book, from the history of the vinyl album through recommendations on gear, celebrating the great album covers, and the great record stores. How did you pick the people to contribute to the book?

DENNIS: Well, it’s interesting. Three of the five are folks that I’ve worked with in the past on our music publishing at Quatro. Gillian Garr, who’s especially prolific, and Richie Unterberger, they’ve all written books for us in the past, and so I kind of knew that they were well- versed in all aspects of vinyl and turntables and just being music lovers. So, I figured that once we divvied up the book and figured out a table of contents it wouldn’t be hard to find something for those three to do.

Matt and Ken, they wrote more about the nuts and bolts of collecting and of audio gear, for lack of a better word. I found them, they had worked on a book for UK-based publisher, and they’re both based in the UK, and they had written on the subjects before. So I approached them to lend their expertise to the book on those subjects.

BRAD Well, it covers all of these topics really well. I think Richie Unterberger takes the first chapter and he kind of gives a whole history, of kind of going back to before there was even LPs, when there were cylinders.

DENNIS: Right.

BRAD: Yeah, all of this stuff was not formal… We think of the twelve-inch LP and the seven inch single, but there were just all kinds of options. There was, I think, a 20-inch LP that was experimented with. Different speeds, like 80rpm– I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an 80rpm record, but just kind of an interesting history of how we got from this kind of haphazard  options into the formats that we all kind of came to know and love. But that’s a great chapter.

DENNIS: Yeah, I thought Richie did a really fantastic job of kind of digging into the prehistory of the twelve inch 33 1/3 Rpm record. And like you say, kind of showing how we got there from something that was far removed from that. Going back to, as you mentioned, the wax cylinders and other formats.  

BRAD: One thing that I learned, that I didn’t realize before, was that the speed of 33 1/3  actually derived from the records that they used from the early “talkie” motion pictures. I thought that was interesting. And he covers the rise and decline of the 45 single, and the offshoot of the EP. It’s just a really great history of the vinyl record.


BRAD: And then you have a section of the book on record covers, and showing some of the classic album covers, as well as sort of the history of album cover art. And there’s definitely stages, right? The way album covers looked in the 50’s, very different from the 60’s, and moving forward. Martin Popoff wrote that section, I believe.

DENNIS: Yeah, I thought Martin did a really good job. Martin, he’s probably the preeminent metal guy, heavy metal writer in the world, but once you get to know him, you find out that he’s so much more than that. He’s really well-versed in all sorts of genres of popular music and rock and roll, and I thought he did a really good job of tracing the early sleeve art, going back to the late 40’s and the first twelve inch record, right up to today, really. And I thought he really explored the breadth of genres and sort of schools of art, and famous design studios and different folks who, like the Hypgnosis people, who became famous for their sleeve art over the years.

So, yeah, I mean, it’s all really basically a big celebration of kind of tactile experience, which I think we’re finding a lot of people are getting back to, or started to get back to, especially during the COVID years hunkered down at home, holding stuff in their hands and looking at it and staring at it, spinning on a turntable rather than listening to it on their phone.

BRAD: Right? Well, you can’t see it, the folks listening can’t see it, but here in my studio I have about 50 framed album covers all around on the walls. Because album cover art is… to me, I can’t separate, particularly with records that I grew up listening to, I can’t separate the album cover from the music, because it was part of the experience. It’s the old cliche about putting the record on and then sitting down with that cover in your hands and reading the liner notes and the lyric sheets and all that stuff, as you listen to the record.

And to me that’s all part of the experience, and you definitely lose that. I mean it was seriously diminished when we went to CD’s but it’s nonexistent really, when you go to streaming and I think that’s a shame. To me, album cover art is really a lost art form. I guess it is kind of making a comeback for many years, but it’s a very unique art form, I think, in that it’s a perfect blend between “art” art and commercial art.

DENNIS: Right.

BRAD: It’s art that’s meant to sell a product, but yet, within that, what you are able to do with an album cover is so much beyond what anyone else was able to do with any other kind of commercial art that I can think of. I mean, you could push the boundaries of commercial art to its extremes in album cover art. And that’s what I loved about it. There’s just something really unique and just special about album cover art. I think you can argue all you want about the sound quality of vinyl versus CD– we’ll be arguing about that forever– but there’s no disputing that album cover art is a unique thing about vinyl that just there’s nothing compares to it. CD’s certainly don’t.

DENNIS: There’s really two sides to it, right, that you kind of alluded to: There’s sort of the crass side which is this is an advertisement, really, for what’s inside. But on the other hand, it is, like you say, it’s a piece of art that someone put a lot of work and thought into.


BRAD: Yeah, I mean, creative expression, kind of run wild in a commercial sense. I think there’s really something special about album cover art.

DENNIS: Definitely.

BRAD: And, like many hardcore music fans, I did my time as a record store clerk. So I really enjoyed the section of the book where they talk about some of the great record stores in the country and beyond. Most of them gone now, which is a shame. But the book kind of has a little celebration of some of the great record stores.

DENNIS: That was Gillian Garr. She’s based in Seattle. Again, she’s written a number of books for us and other publishers as well. But, yeah, there’s kind of a through line to that chapter, with all these chapters, which in her case, it’s kind of the history of the record store. The place where the merchandising happens. As with the album covers, we all have memories of those spaces where you would go into, and everyone, I think that the sound of albums, or the CD’s, flipping or clicking as people flip through them, is kind of ingrained in their mind.

And so she kind of explored the history of those spaces, and then within each, there’s sort of like one page, really kind of brief sidebar call-outs about some of the more remarkable record stores. In fact, they’re called “Remarkable Record Stores”, in the US and Europe for the most part, that people have heard of and frequented over the years. Some of them, as you say, gone, some of them still extant.

BRAD: They became places of community and y’know, you’d have customers who’d come and just stand at the counter and chat with you, for sometimes hours. You know, that was all part of it. It was a shared experience that again, kind of goes away when you’ve got Amazon and Discogs and things like that. But there’s still stores out there, and it’s still a fun experience to just poke through the bins and see what you can find. I love it.

DENNIS: Yeah, one of my favorite parts of that chapter is just, more so than the sidebars about actual record stores, is just looking at the photos, of the insides of record stores across the decades, and how the retail concepts differed so widely from one place to the next, and how they kind of evolved with listening stations and just racking and packaging and everything about it is just, like, fascinating to look at.

BRAD: Right.

DENNIS: One of my favorite photos in that chapter is of a place I actually visited once in Turku, Finland called uh, 8Raita, which means “8-track” in Finnish. And just fantastic… you know, Finland being Finland, they had, in the back corner, one of those rod hockey games that you probably remember as a kid. Probably as a way to keeppeople in the store and hanging out and spending their money more than anything else.

BRAD: Right. There was such a different experience between shopping at Kmart and shopping at your local indie record store is kind of a night and day kind of thing.

DENNIS: But it’s even nostalgic to think back… I kind of grew up in sort of a rural area, and I can remember in the late 70’s when grocery stores had a corner of the store dedicated to record albums. They were just kind of ubiquitous, and even the record section at Kmart or Woolworths back in the day was a fun place for a kid to hang out while their mom was buying groceries or whatever.

BRAD: Yeah, exactly. Just browsing through the bins and discovering new bands, and looking at the record covers and just wondering what that record sounded like.

DENNIS: Exactly.

BRAD: Yeah.


BRAD: You know, I think one of the most intimidating things for people who are just getting into vinyl is how do you do it– how do you choose your equipment? Because it is everything from cheapo Crosley turntables to multi-thousand dollar setups, and how in the world do you stick your toe in that water? And there’s a great chapter in the book, just kind of going over the different elements of the equipment necessary, and how to get started, and I think that’s pretty useful, particularly for people who are just kind of getting started in vinyl.

DENNIS: Yeah, I mean when we came up with the idea of the book and thought about, if we do a vinyl and turntable book, what should it be? Who should it be for? I wouldn’t say that we approached it as something that should be a primer for people just getting into the hobby… I mean, there’s definitely a part of that, but hopefully there’s something in there for people who have been into it for decades.

But like you say, um, one of the most intimidating parts of the whole thing is kind of sussing out the equipment and gear, and anyone who spent any time at all on a Facebook turntable Group knows how unforgiving some enthusiasts can be when it comes to that sort of thing. So, we kind of hoped it was kind of, maybe “gentle” is a good word for it, something to make it less intimidating.  Something that could say, you can figure this out too, and don’t worry about those guys with their $20,000 Macintosh systems or whatever.

BRAD: Right. Sometimes when you venture into those internet forms or whatever, you go in to try to get some clarity and by the time you’re done, you’re more confused than you were when you started. There’s so many opinions, and people are so entrenched in their particular opinion, that it’s hard to suss out what’s the right path. And I think that chapter in the book gives people a really good idea of where to start, and maybe where to head. Because the equipment itself, that’s a whole other side of it. Audio equipment is a journey in and of itself.

DENNIS: Right. But if you ask five people, you’ll get six opinions.

BRAD: Right, exactly. But I think that chapter in the book is a good place to start. So, anyone listening out there who hasn’t dabbled in vinyl and you’re curious about getting into it,  without having to spend thousands of dollars, check out that chapter of the book. It’s good advice.


BRAD: And then there’s the last chapter in the book, just sort of about the culture of vinyl fans and that’s kind of, I think, a nice way to wrap up the book, because there is a great culture around just the passion for the music. And really, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about the cartridges and the needles and all of that all that fun stuff, and whether you’ve got a first pressing, or the condition of the cover, and all that kind of… I mean, that’s all part of collecting, but ultimately, it’s the joy of the music that really matters, and the pleasure of putting on a great record and turning it up and listening to it.

DENNIS: Yeah. Again, there’s something like that’s so sensory about the whole experience beyond the audio portion of it… the smell of the record store, it gets down to that level for me. The feel of the record in your hands or the sleeve in your hands, it’s just all that kind of fun stuff. And I hope we were able to capture some of that in the book and turn some people onto it, or maybe make them consider exploring vinyl as a hobby.

BRAD: Yeah, I think so. I think the book is a great place for anyone to start their vinyl collection. If you’re just getting started, or if you’re curious about it, this is a great guidebook. It is, in its own way, a primer, but it’s also a celebration of all that’s come before.

And for those of us who grew up with vinyl records, you’re going to find something in this book to appreciate. I love this book, and I would recommend it whether you’re an old fan or a new fan. So I think you guys did a great job putting the book together.

DENNIS: Thanks, Brad.

BRAD: Yeah, well, thank you for joining me to talk a little bit about the book. It is available on, is it October 31, the official release date?

DENNIS: I, uh, think that’s correct, yeah, sometime in October.

BRAD: So by the time this episode is out and available, you can order this book from Amazon, or better yet, support your local bookstore and purchase it from there.

DENNIS: Definitely.

BRAD: The book is called “In The Groove – The Vinyl Record and Turntable Revolution”, a great book that should be on the bookshelf of any record fan. So thanks for the book, and thanks for joining me to talk about it. I really appreciate it. Thanks, Dennis.

DENNIS: Thanks for having me. Anyone who names their podcast after a Paul Westerberg lyric is all right by me.

BRAD: (Laughs) Thank you, sir. Thanks so much.

BRAD: And thanks, as always, to you for listening. Please pick up a copy of this book. You will enjoy it. “In The Groove – The Vinyl Record and Turntable Revolution”. Available now.

This podcast will be back in about two weeks with another new episode, so join me again then. All of our previous episodes, and there’s about 140 of them now, can be found on our website,, or in your favorite podcast app. Just look for us, you’ll find us there.

Keep in touch on Facebook or send an email to And if you’d like to support the show, all I ask is that you tell a friend about it, because your recommendation is worth more than any advertising.

On behalf of everyone on the Pantheon Podcast Network, I thank you for listening. Now go dig out an album that you haven’t listened to for a while, put it on that turntable, crank it up, and get in the groove.

Welcome to our 2nd Sort-Of-Annual Halloween episode! This time we’re exploring the gory details of “D.O.A.” by Bloodrock, one of the most gruesome songs to ever make the charts. In predictable fashion, a song almost designed to get banned from radio & freak out your parents in the ’70’s, the song became a Top 40 hit.

“D.O.A.” (Rutledge-Hill-Grundy-Taylor-Pickens-Cobb) Copyright 1970 Ledgefield Music BMI

— Don’t be spooked by all the other great shows on the Pantheon podcast network — check them out! And don’t forget to follow our show so you never miss an episode.


I’m Brad Page and this is the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast Network.

It’s time for our special Halloween edition of the podcast where we explore the terrifying tunes, creepy compositions and sinister singles in celebration of all Hallows Eve.

This time we’re traveling back to 1971 for Bloodrock and their chilling performance of “D.O.A.”

Songs about horrible accidents and death were not unheard of on the pop charts; singles like “Leader of the Pack” and “Deadman’s Curve” date back to the early 60s and those were big hits.

But unlike those songs, there is no romanticism or sentimentality in “DOA”. Bloodrock tries to one up the gloom and horror aspects of bands like Black Sabbath with this gruesome tale of a terrible plane crash.

The band that would become Bloodrock came from Fort Worth, Texas. They performed under a few different names. They were led by Jim Rutledge, who was their drummer and their lead vocalist. In 1969, Terry Knight became their manager. Knight is mostly famous– or infamous is more like it– for managing Grand Funk Railroad. Knight was the one that changed their name to Bloodrock and signed them to Capitol Records. They released their first album, simply called “Bloodrock” in 1970.

Terry Knight convinced Jim Rutledge to quit playing drums and become their lead singer out-front. So by the time the band recorded their second album, 1970, Bloodrock was a six-piece band, including Lee Pickens and Nick Taylor, both on guitars, Stevie Hill on keyboards, Ed Grundy on bass, their new drummer,
Rick Cobb, and Jim Rutledge on Lee vocals.

The new album was called “Bloodrock 2” and “DOA” was the featured track on the album. The album version clocks in at 8 1/2 minutes; it was later edited down to 4minutes and 32 seconds, losing almost half of its original length, and issued as a single in 1971.

Though the song was banned by many radio stations, it still managed to reach #36 on the charts. All six band members share writing credit on the song, but the lyrics were inspired by a real-life experience from lead guitarist Lee Pickens. When he was about 17 years old, he actually witnessed a plane crash.
They took that and turned it into a fictional account with the song telling the story of the immediate aftermath of a plane crash. The song is sung from the first person perspective of one of the victims.

Now, I am almost always preferential to the album version of songs as those usually represent the original intent, the way the song was meant to be heard, and I usually prefer the album versions anyway. But I gotta say, at eight minutes and 30 seconds, that’s pretty excessive for this song. So on this episode, we’re just gonna go with the single version.

So here’s how that version begins with Stevie Hill’s organ part.


Sounds ominous, right? That’s because he’s playing a tritone, which for hundreds of years was called “Diabolus in Musica”– the “Devil’s Interval”.

This very distinct sound is created when you play a flatted fifth note. It doesn’t matter what key you’re in, just take the fifth note of that scale and play it flat; in other words, a half-step lower, or if you’re a guitar player, that would be one fret lower. And that note, in relationship to the root note of the scale, creates a very unsettling mood, almost disturbing… so disturbing, in fact, that for centuries the use of the flatted fifth
was frowned upon by the church.

In more enlightened times, it was used in classical music and in jazz in various ways, but it’s really earned its Devil’s Interval reputation in Heavy Metal. One of the earliest and still the best uses of the Devil’s Interval was in “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath. Check it out:


So what you have here is the root note in this case, a G, followed by an octave, another G, then a D flat, your demonic flatted fifth.


That’s so great. It’s really just two notes, but in relationship to each other, those two notes create such a feeling.


Okay, back to Blood Rock and “DOA”. Let’s hear how they’re doing it.So first, let’s focus on the bass notes. We’re in the key of C, so the first note is a C.


And that is followed by a G flat. There’s your flatted fifth. Let’s hear those two notes in sequence.


From there, it goes to a D, and then right after that, to an A flat. And that A flat in relationship to the D is, you guessed it, a flatted fifth. So in essence, we’re getting double the devil’s interval here.


Now over the top of that, he’s playing a two note pattern that, when you think about it, emulates the sound of an ambulance or police siren. Let’s hear all that together again.


Here’s the first verse.


Here’s the first verse.


The imagery doesn’t get any more pleasant from here. You have to say that one thing that bugs me is that there’s no rhyme in that verse. There’s like four verses in this song, and two of them rhyme, two of them don’t. I’m just kind of picky about that kind of thing.

Anyway, at the break there, we hear an actual siren overdubbed along with that subliminal two note organ part. Let’s pick it back up into the second verse.


Now, did you notice that transition? As we said before, the original version of this song is over eight minutes long, and they edited it way down to get it into this four and a half minute single version. And you can clearly hear and edit there right before the vocal comes in.


That’s a pretty sloppy edit. Let’s play through the second verse.


And that brings us to the chorus.


There are those police sirens again. One of the excuses that radio stations gave for banning the song was that they said drivers listening to the song in their cars could be confused or disoriented by the sirens. But that sounds pretty lame to me. I think they just didn’t like the lyrics.

Here’s the third verse.


Notice how the little hi-hat accent first appears in the left and then on the right.


Let’s bring up the vocals here.


There’s a pretty nice bass part under the chorus. Let’s bring that up a bit.


And the reappearance of those sirens usher us into the final verse. There continue to be some pretty clunky edits leading into each of these verses. On this one you can hear that the beginning of the crash symbol hit is clipped off.


So pretty effective use of the harmony vocals on the chorus. Let’s bring up the vocals one more time.


And here at the end we get some classic tape manipulation to bring it all down.


Bloodrock – “D.O.A.”

Call it shock rock, exploitation, call it cheesy, but back in the day the song was pretty extreme. I’ve read that Goldmine magazine actually called it the worst song ever to be released on vinyl. Though I don’t know if that’s actually true or not, but it was certainly controversial. But it managed to crack the Top 40 and the
“Bloodrock 2” album has sold over half a million copies.

Then, as today… controversy sells.

Thanks for joining us for this Halloween edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. I’ll be back in about two weeks with another new episode. Until then, keep in touch with us on Facebook. Leave comments or reviews on and catch up with all of our previous episodes on our website. or wherever you listen to podcasts. And do me a favor: tell a friend about our show. That is the best thing you can do to support this podcast.

We are part of the Pantheon family of podcasts, along with plenty of other great music related shows. Thanks for listening to this episode on “D.O.A” by Bloodrock.

Trick or treat…


Bettye LaVette is the epitome of perseverance. She cut her first record in 1962 at the age of 16, but it took over 40 years before she received the recognition and respect she deserved. In between, she weathered every injustice that the music business threw at her. But she never gave up, she never stopped working, she never stopped singing… in fact, she just got better. Bettye is more than just a singer; she’s an interpreter who can transform any song into something new & special. On this episode, we focus on a track from her 2007 album The Scene of the Crime, and trace the path that brought her to this album– one of my all-time favorites.

“I Still Want To Be Your Baby (Take Me As I Am)” (Eddie Hinton) Copyright Eddie Hinton Music (BMI) 


So let me ask you a question: You have your favorite songs, right? What is it about those songs that you love? What makes those songs so great? Well, these are the questions that we try to answer here on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast.

I’m your host, Brad Page, and each episode I pick one of my favorite songs and we listen to it together trying to understand what goes into creating a great song. No musical knowledge is required here, we don’t delve into music theory or technical jargon. All you need are your ears and just a little bit of curiosity.

If I had to pick just a handful of women’s voices for my desert island collection, it would have to include Aretha Franklin, of course, Mavis Staples… and Bettye LaVette.

Many people don’t know Bettye LaVette, but she’s one of the greatest vocalists I’ve ever heard. On this episode, we’ll be listening to Bettye and a song called “I Still Want to Be Your Baby.”

The story of Bettye LaVette is a story of perseverance, of determination, and survival. Bettye LaVette was born Bettye Jo Haskins in January 1946. She grew up in Detroit, and when she was 16 years old, she recorded her first single, a song called “My Man He’s A Lovin’ Man” in 1962. It made it to the top 10 on the R&B charts.


Her next couple of singles didn’t do as well, but she made it back onto the R&B charts in 1965 with “Let Me Down Easy.”


She continued to record singles for various small labels. She recorded in Memphis with the Dixie Flyers and the Memphis Horns, and reached number 25 on the R&B charts with a song called “He Made A Woman Out of Me”, despite the fact that it was banned on some stations because it was deemed a little too sexual for some folks. I love this track, though.


They were planning a full album for Bettye, but the deal fell apart due to conflicts between the producer and the label. Bettye picked herself up and managed to sign a deal with Atlantic Records in 1972. She headed down to the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama and finally got to record her first full album with the legendary Muscle Shoals rhythm section.

That album was going to be called “Child of the 70s.” It was mastered and prepared for release. There was even a publicity tour scheduled. But at the last minute, the album was shelved. The label called Bettye and said, “We’ve decided not to go forward with this project. Please return your plane tickets.”

You can imagine how devastating that must have been. To this day, nobody really knows why the record was shelved. But Bettye picked herself up again and went back to work.

A few more unsuccessful singles were released. In 1978, she recorded a disco single called “Doin the Best I Can,” which actually became a pretty big disco hit, but Bettye had signed away all of her rights to the song so she didn’t make a penny from it.

She wasn’t going to give up, though. She’d find a way to survive. In 1979, she joined the Broadway cast of “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” and she stayed in that production for four years. She kept recording records here and there all through the 80s and 90s, but none of them got much attention.

Then, a record collector in France had been searching for the master tapes of that 1972 album, “Child of the 70s.” In 1999, he found them. He licensed the recordings from Atlantic and released the album himself. 28 years after it was recorded, Bettye’s first album was finally released. And then people started to pay attention.

Between 2000 and 2006, the crowds grew bigger at Bettye’s shows, the records sold more copies, and the critics raved. Then, in 2007, she returned to the Muscle Shull Studio, now 35 years after her last sessions there to record her next album, and it’s a masterpiece.

Her record label reached out to Patterson Hood and asked him if he was interested in producing Bettye’s album. Patterson is a member of the Drive-by-Truckers, and he’s also the son of David Hood, the bass player from that legendary Muscle Shoals rhythm section. Patterson jumped at the chance to work with Bettye, and he set up the sessions at Muscle Shoals’ Fame Studios.

Patterson lined up a stellar group of musicians, including the rest of the Drive-by-Truckers, along with some of the original Muscle Shoals players. He even got his dad to come in and play on a few tracks.

They called the album “The Scene of the Crime”, acknowledging that she was returning to the place where her ill-fated child of the 70s album was recorded.

The album opens with this song, “I Still Want to Be Your Baby”. And right off the bat, Bettyee establishes who she is with this track. She’s tough, she is who she is, she’ll love you and stick with you through the good times in the bad– but don’t try to change her.

What makes her version all the more interesting is that this song was written by a man, from a man’s perspective. Eddie Hinton wrote this song. He was another one of the legendary players at Fame Studios; he was their go-to lead guitarist. He was also a songwriter.

Eddie Hinton died in 1995 before this album was recorded, so he wasn’t around to play on the record. Otherwise, I bet he would have been there and would have approved wholeheartedly of Bettyee’s interpretation.

The song opens with two guitars, one in the left channel playing a simple riff, the other is in the middle only playing half of the riff an octave lower.

Both guitars are slathered in reverb. This is not fancy digital studio reverb. This is the sound of a real tube-driven guitar amp with its built-in spring reverb. You can really hear that distinctive spring reverb sound on these guitars. And the guitar in the middle also has some tremolo effect on it, set at a relatively fast speed. Let’s listen.


After that four-bar intro, the rest of the band jumps in. There’s a third guitar in the mix, panned a little to the right. There are three guitar players on this album, Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, and John Neff, all members of the Drive by Truckers. And I’m not sure who’s playing which parts, but just keep in mind that there are three distinct guitar parts on this song.

The rest of the band includes Shana Tucker on bass and Brad Morgan on drums, also from the Drive by Truckers. So you’ve got the whole Drive by Truckers band backing Bettye on this track. Also on keyboards is none other than Muscle Shoals legend Spooner Oldham.

Let’s pick it back up from the intro.


Bettye LaVette was 61 when she made this record. And I think she’s never sung better. This is not the voice of a young diva. This is the voice of a woman, a woman who’s lived, who’s loved, been hurt, and who’s learned.

Frankly, I wouldn’t be interested in hearing a 20-year-old singing this song. “I’ve been this way too long to change now.” That would just sound ridiculous coming out of the mouth of someone that young. Here, Bettye’s singing, it’s pitch perfect, but the ragged edges of her voice adds gravitas. It rings true. Feels real.

Whatever abilities may diminish with age, the experience that comes with growing older can more than make up for it. As great as Bettyee’s performances from the 60s and 70s were, I think she’s an even better singer now. Here’s the first verse.


The guitars are playing behind the verses actually pretty atmospheric. Let’s listen to a little bit of that.


And that takes us into the next chorus.


I love her phrasing on that last line:


Here’s the second verse, and this is where Spooner Oldham joins in on the electric piano. Listen for that.


This is the closest thing we get to a guitar solo in this song, and I like the interplay between the rhythm guitars here.


Let’s bring Bettye’s vocals up in the mix for this last verse.


That guitar refrain returns, and Bettye does some improvising.


All three guitars begin to play off and around each other:


You can really hear that tremolo on the guitar here at the end.


Bettyee LaVette – “I Still Want To Be Your Baby”

Bettyee doesn’t play an instrument, and she doesn’t write songs. Bettyee does one thing, and she does it better than almost anyone else: she interprets songs. In 2008, she appeared at the Kennedy Center Honors for The Who, and sang a version of “Love, Reign O’er Me” that brought the house down. It was a show-stopping moment.

Bettyee’s continued to make records, including “Blackbirds” in 2020, where she recorded her version of songs by the great black women artists that inspired her. And just last month, September 2023, she released her latest album, Simply Called “LaVette”, that’s a return to the rootsy, bluesy and Americana sounds of this track. It’s probably my favorite album of the year.

Bettyew is 77 years old, a living legend, and still going strong, doing some of her best work today.

Thanks for checking out this episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. If you’d like to know more, or share your thoughts, find us on Facebook or on Podchaser, where you can leave a review, rate us, and tell us what you think. And don’t forget to follow the show so that you never miss an episode.
We are part of the Pantheon podcast family– lots of great music-related shows to be found there, so check them out.

We’ll be back in two weeks with another new episode. Until then, go support Bettye LaVette by buying a few of her albums. You will not regret it.


Keyboardist Barry Andrews was out and new guitarist Dave Gregory came onboard for XTC’s 3rd album, Drums And Wires, as the band’s sound palette expanded. Written & sung by bassist Colin Moulding, “Making Plans For Nigel” became XTC’s first big hit. This episode, we explore the production, performance and the origin of this XTC classic.

“Making Plans For Nigel” (Colin Moulding) Copyright 1979 EMI Virgin Records Ltd

Remember to follow this show, so you never miss an episode.


Welcome, friends. There’s no thugs in our house, so come on in and join us here at the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast Network. My name is Brad Page and each episode of this show, I pick a favorite song and we explore it together, discovering all the elements that go into making it a great song. We don’t get into music theory here, so don’t worry if you’re not a musician or technically inclined. All that’s required here is a desire to listen.

This time, we’re exploring a song from one of the most creative bands ever. This is “Making plans for Nigel” by XTC.

Guitarist Andy Partridge and bassist Colin Molding started working together in the early 70’s. Both were singers and songwriters. Along with drummer Terry Chambers, they played in various bands with various names. By 1976, keyboard player Barry Andrews joined the band, and they changed their name to XTC.

They released their first album, “White Music”, in January 1978. And then, less than a year later, they released their second album called “Go To” in October 78. Two months later, Barry Andrews quit. He would go on to work with Robert Fripp and form the band Shriekback. But XTC decided to go into a different direction. They recruited a guitarist, a guy named Dave Gregory, who they knew from back in their hometown of Swindon.

They set to work on their third album, “Drums and Wires”. “Drums and Wires” earned its name due to the increased focus on drums and guitar sounds. The album was produced by Steve Lillywhite and engineered by Hugh Padgam, who were both the architects behind the gated, reverb drum sound that would pretty much define the sound of the 1980s.

Andy Partridge was the primary songwriter in XTC. He wrote eight of the twelve songs on the album. The other four tracks were Colin Molding songs. “Making Plans For Nigel” was one of Colin’s.

By this time, Colin was getting a little tired of the more quirky, angular stuff the band had been doing. And with the addition of Dave Gregory on guitar, he was able to push the band in a more pop direction. Not necessarily more commercial, just more accessible.

The fact is the band had all kinds of influences and with Barry Andrews’ departure, they could explore and incorporate sounds and styles beyond just the punk and new wave approach.

When Colin first presented “Making Plans For Nigel” to the band, he was strumming it on a nylon string classical guitar, and that wasn’t going to cut it for XTC. Andy Partridge contributed a lot to the arrangement of the song, and he worked with drummer Terry Chambers on the drum part. Influenced by the sounds of Devo, Andy referred to it as an “upside down drum part”, where Terry was moving a conventional rhythm around to different drums on the drum set.

Colin is following the tom pattern on his bass. Dave Gregory is playing staccato spiky chords on his guitar, while Andy is playing a two-note riff over the top.

You can hear a slow flanging effect on the drums. Terry is playing an insistent pattern on the floor tom instead of the hi-hat or symbol, as a drummer would typically do. In fact, he’s playing the hi-hat along with the bass drum. And just before the rest of the band kicks in, one of the guitars sounds like it’s momentarily stepping on a wah-wah pedal.

Again, that’s Dave Gregory’s guitar playing chords panned somewhat to the left and Andy playing that two-note bit on the right. Here comes Colin’s vocal:

Andy has to inject some weirdness… he just can’t help himself. So he adds that odd little backing vocal part.

The lyrics tell the tale of a boy with overbearing parents who’ve already mapped out the path of his life. It’s a song about parental domination. Colin said he chose the name “Nigel” because he knew a few Nigels at school, and thought the name fit the song. But the lyrics are somewhat autobiographical. Colin’s dad did not approve of him being in a band and wanted Colin to cut his hair. Back in those days, you could get expelled from school for having long hair and sure enough, Colin was expelled for refusing to cut his hair.

The song isn’t really a depiction of Colin’s life, he just used that as a starting point. But Colin did say that there’s “a bit of Nigel in myself”. There’s probably a little Nigel in many of us.

And some more quirky backing vocals from Andy there. Doubled on guitar, I think.

Little bit of a guitar fill there from Andy.

There’s a voice whispering, we’re only making plans for Nigel behind the lead vocal. Check it out.

Colin imagined Nigel working in middle management, so he gave him a corporate job at British Steel, more or less at random. Turned out to be a good choice because a month after the album was released, 100,000 union steel workers went on strike.

The British Steel Company was upset enough by the song that they found four of their employees named Nigel and had them tell the press just how great it was to work for British steel. And, as usual, this kind of publicity only helped XTC to sell more records.

They used a keyboard to create that metallic, industrial crashing sound that, along with the unique drum pattern, give the song a mechanized production line feel that matches the corporate industry conformity of the lyrics.

Now we’ve reached the bridge; Andy adds his distinctive harmony vocals here.

Andy is going to add a background vocal here, singing the line “In his work” with kind of a howling delivery that makes you wonder just how happy Nigel really is with his work.

That last time, Andy sings “In his world”. And then they repeat the main verse.

Let’s focus in on the drum part, and listen again to the way Terry Chambers plays the floor tom like it was the hi hat and uses the hi hat for accents.

And there’s another short guitar break played by Andy.

They repeat the verse again, but with different harmonies that add a sense of urgency to it. this time.

Andy adds a new high pitched vocal to that part.

Lyrically, the song is never sung from Nigel’s perspective. The whole song is sung from the perspective of Nigel’s overbearing parents. Nigel never gets to share his thoughts or feelings in his own song.

Another reference to British Steel. Here, the song breaks as they repeat the word “Steel” with that heavy echo. I imagine this was influenced by the reggae dub sound.

The rhythm guitars get a little busier here at the end.

“Making Plans For Nigel” – XTC

When the record company heard “Making Plans For Nigel”, they wanted it to be the first single from the album, and it turned out to be their first big hit, at least in the UK.

XTC is often compared to the Beatles, and I think that’s an apt comparison, at least in the sense that there was a certain tension between the two primary songwriters; there was a constant evolution from album to album; that no two records are the same; and that they were always exploring new sounds and new approaches to making records. Their songs were always smart, always clever and they knew their way around to catchy melody.

The fact that XTC never got the attention they deserved, especially in America, is just one of those frustrating things about the music business. But it doesn’t change the fact that as far as I’m concerned, they made some of the greatest albums ever.

Thank you for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. If you’d like to leave feedback or a review of the show, is probably the best place to do it. You can keep up to date with the show on our Facebook page, and you can find all of our previous episodes on our website, or just search for us on Google Podcasts, Amazon, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and pretty much anywhere podcasts can be found.

And if you like the show, the best thing you can do to support us is to tell some friends about it– share it with other people. That helps the show to grow.

We are part of the Pantheon network of podcasts, where you can find a ton of other music related shows, so give some of those shows a listen. New episodes of this show are released on the first and the 15th of every month, so I’ll see you back here in about two weeks.

Until then, thanks again for listening to this episode on “Making Plans For Nigel” by XTC.

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Bill Nelson combined Prog Rock, Glam and Art Rock into the unique sound that was Be-Bop Deluxe. They were musically adventurous, but always maintained a strong sense of melody and a memorable hook or two, as evidenced by this track from their 3rd album Sunburst Finish, released in 1976. Let’s explore the “Sleep That Burns“.

“Sleep That Burns” (Bill Nelson) Copyright 1975 B. Feldman and Company Ltd. All rights assigned USA and Canada to Beechwood Music Corporation

Remember to follow this show, so you never miss an episode.


Greetings, music fans. This is the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast coming to you on the Pantheon Podcast network. My name is Brad Page, and each episode of this show, I pick a favorite song of mine and we explore it together on our never-ending quest to discover what makes a great song. No musical knowledge or skill is required here, just musical curiosity.

On this edition, we’re delving into a song by a band that had some success in the UK, but it never translated to the US. Nevertheless, I think they were a pretty interesting and pretty unique band. So let’s explore Be-Bop Deluxe and a song called “Sleep That Burns”

The band Be-Bop Deluxe was really the vehicle for Bill Nelson. A guitarist, singer and songwriter from Yorkshire, England, he attended Wakefield College of Art in the 1960s and did some recording as a guitarist for other artists and got a little bit of attention for his guitar work on an album by Light Years Away in 1971. Here’s some of Nelson’s playing on the Light Years Away song called “Yesterday”:

Nelson released his first solo album, “Northern Dream”, on his own label—that’s pretty adventurous for 1973.  He pressed up 300 copies, one of which found its way into the hands of the legendary BBC DJ John Peele, who played it on his show, which in turn got Nelson a record deal with EMI Harvest Records. By then, Nelson had formed a band of his own which he called Be-Bop Deluxe. EMI signed Be-Bop Deluxe and released their first album, “Axe Victim”, in 1974.

After the release of “Axe Victim”, Nelson fired everyone from the band and reformed the group with a new lineup, including drummer Simon Cox and bassist/vocalist Charlie Tumahai. a native of New Zealand.  This new version of Be-Bop Deluxe released their next album, called “Futurama”, in 1975.

The “Futurama” album really established their sound: a little bit progressive rock, a little bit glam, and a little bit of that Roxy Music art-rock sound, all anchored around Bill Nelson’s brilliant guitar playing.

Nelson had also been playing some keyboards on the albums, but for the next record, he wanted to expand that, so he brought in a full time keyboard player to the band. His name was Simon Clark, but since the band already had a drummer named Simon, they convinced him to use his middle name, Andy.

But changing up band members wasn’t the only changes on Bill Nelson’s mind. He wanted to mix things up on the production side, too. Their first album had been produced by Ian McClintock; Roy Thomas Baker was the producer on their second album. Nelson wasn’t really happy with either of them, so he wanted to produce the next album by himself.

The record company, though, thought he was too inexperienced to produce the album by himself, so they wanted him to co-produce with somebody else. EMI suggested John Leckie, who was a staff engineer at Abbey Road, and they felt he was ready for his first job as a producer. Nelson met with Leckie and they got along great. So they agreed to produce the next Be-Bop Deluxe album together.

Sessions began in October 1975 at Abbey Road. After a month or so of recording, the album was complete and it was released in January 1976. They named the album “Sunburst Finish”. The album features one of the all-time great album covers, and the record includes the track “Ships In The Night”, which would become their biggest hit, reaching number 23 on the UK charts. But I don’t believe it charted in the US.

Bill Nelson, though, has said many times that “Ships In The Night” is his least-favorite track from Be-Bop Deluxe, so we’re not going to explore that one here, even though I like it. We’re going to focus on another favorite track from this album, the song that closes out side one of the record, “Sleep That Burns”.

I should mention here that in 2018 the album was reissued as a deluxe 2 CD set that included the original version of the album, along with a new remixed version. I debated over which version to use here; I generally prefer to use the original versions, but some of the instruments and parts stand out a little better on that 2018 mix. But in the end, I decided to stick with the original mix. So just to be clear, we’ll be hearing the 1976 version here.

“Sleep That Burns” was written by Bill Nelson. Like everything else on the album, Nelson played all the guitars and sang the lead vocal. Charlie Tumahai played bass and did the backing vocals. Andy Clark provided the keyboards and Simon Fox plays drums.

The song is about dreams. Bill Nelson said, “I had a fascination with how we spend so much of our time asleep. Dreaming and dreams don’t make sense. I thought of the song as being kind of a movie.” And so, to set the stage for our theater of the mind, the song opens with the sound of an alarm clock going off and someone awakening from a dream.

If that big introduction sounds a little familiar to you, that’s because Bill Nelson came up with that part as sort of a homage to “Baba O’Reilly” by The Who.

There are many layers of guitars all throughout this song. Nelson’s main guitar at this time was a Gibson ES345. The color of that guitar is what gave this album its name, and he uses that guitar on many of these tracks. Let’s listen to the guitars on this intro.

There are two heavily distorted guitars playing those Pete Townsend chords, panned left and right. Sounds like there’s also an acoustic guitar or two playing those parts. Then there’s a cleaner electric guitar playing an arpeggiated part in the middle.

By the way, if some of these musical terms and guitar lingo is confusing to you, go back and listen to Episode 75 of this podcast called “The Language of Rock”, where we explain some of these terms.

There’s also a higher pitched part that sounds like a lead guitar line, but it’s actually Andy Clark on the mini Moog synthesizer. After two repetitions of the intro part, we head right into the first verse.

There’s a fantastic galloping rhythm to the verse, and a great guitar part that Bill Nelson is playing, these upper-register triplets played on his guitar. Let’s listen to just the instrumental parts on this verse without the vocal.

Just a couple of lines for the verse and then we hit right into the first chorus. No time wasted here.

A slightly different feel for the chorus, and Andy Clark’s piano comes forward in the mix. Clark is playing the Abbey Road Studio One piano, a 9-foot Steinway grand piano that no doubt appeared on dozens of classic recordings. Let’s hear a little bit of that piano.

I like that extra “All right” in the background there.

They repeat the intro riff before the next verse, and Andy’s synthesizer part is even more prominent this time.

“I’m locked in your dark world, where hearts hold the keys; half-opened, enchanted, half-truths and half-dreams”

Andy Clark’s keyboard parts add another layer on this chorus. I believe in addition to playing piano, he’s also playing a Melotron. It’s the very same Melotron the Beatles used on “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Let’s just hear that part again, this time with Charlie Tumahai’s bass up in the mix.

As we mentioned before, Bill Nelson envisioned this song as kind of a movie. He described this next section as a new scene in the dream, where you’re sitting in a cafe in some exotic place. Listen and you can picture that in your mind. Andy Clark’s using his Mini Moog again to create some sound effects. The band raided the Abbey Road Sound Effects library and made some of the background noises themselves by clinking plates and silverware together to create the sound of the cafe. The band also gathered around the mic to make the background chatter as well.

Andy Clark’s playing some nice tack piano here.

And then the dream gets darker, as dreams often do.

The vocals are suddenly doubled and panned left and right.

Bill Nelson does some nice guitar work here, recorded backwards. Back in the 70’s, there was no easy way to do this. You had to literally turn the tape over backwards and hope that what you were playing would work. Let’s hear just the guitar.

Spiraling piano leads us back into the intro riff and the next verse.

Here’s another chorus. This time, let’s see if we can bring up the drums in the mix.

Simon Cox on the drums. The drums are mixed pretty low on this track, it’s kind of a bummer.

Let’s pick it back up at the final verse. There are additional background vocals echoing the lead vocal on this verse. Bill Nelson’s added single guitar notes, sustained with feedback, on this chorus.

Nelson lets loose with a great guitar solo for this finale.

“Sleep That Burns” – Be-Bop Deluxe

Be-Bop Deluxe would record two more studio albums and a great live album before they disbanded in 1978.

Bill Nelson’s next project was a band called Red Noise, but they only released one album in 1979. Always a restless creative mind, bill Nelson’s sound and style has evolved a lot over the years and he’s released literally dozens of solo albums. He’s incredibly prolific.

Drummer Simon Cox went on to play with Trevor Rabin and a bunch of other projects over the years. He’s still out there kicking it somewhere.

Andy Clark joined Bill Nelson in Red Noise, he band that immediately followed Be-Bop Deluxe, but again, they only released that one album in ‘79. But Andy would go on to do significant work as a session keyboardist on some great records. He played on David Bowie’s “Scary Monsters” album, including the song “Ashes to Ashes”. He plays on Peter Gabriel’s “So” album and “The Seeds of Love” album by Tears for Fears.

Bassist and vocalist Charlie Tumahai unfortunately died in 1995. After Be-Bop Deluxe, he played with The Dukes, a band that featured former Paul McCartney and Wings guitarist Jimmy McCulloch, but that didn’t last long.

Charlie was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and in 1985, he returned back home and joined the legendary New Zealand reggae band The Herbs. He was also very active in the Maiori community and volunteered a lot of his time. Charlie was a hero to many New Zealanders, and it was a real tragedy when he died of a heart attack in December 1995. He was only 46 years old.

Thank you for listening to this episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. There are plenty more like it if you want to check them out– all of our episodes are available on our website, or look for them in your favorite podcast app.

You can share your thoughts with us on Facebook or send us an email And if you’d like to support the show, no need to send money or anything like that, the best thing you can do is to tell your friends about the show and get them to listen.

I’ll be back in two weeks with another new episode. On behalf of everybody on the Pantheon Podcast Network, I thank you for listening and I hope you enjoyed this episode on Be-Bop Deluxe and “Sleep That Burns”

In the late 1980’s, Paul McCartney took a shot at writing some songs with Elvis Costello. The ultimate result was a set of 15 songs, some of them never seeing the light of day until years later. But “Back On My Feet” was the first song that was released, buried as a B-side on the “Once Upon A Long Ago” single. It deserved better. Here, we explore the song in detail and shine a light on this overlooked gem.

“Back On My Feet” (Paul McCartney & Declan MacManus) Copyright 1989 MPL Communications Ltd/Plageant Visions Ltd

 — This show is just one of many great Rock Podcasts on the Pantheon Podcasts network. Collect ’em all!


Welcome, one and all, to the “I’m In Love With That Song” Podcast. I’m your host, Brad Page, and each episode of this show, I pick one of my favorite songs and we explore it together, just trying to get a handle on what makes a song great. No musical knowledge is required here. We don’t get into music theory or too much technical jargon. We’re just listening to the performances, the production, and all those little nuances that go into making a song work.

On this edition, we’re uncovering a lesser-known track by Paul McCartney that’s called “Back on My Feet”.

Way back on the very first episode of this podcast, we listened to a McCartney song called “Daytime Nighttime Suffering” that was relegated to a B-side and never got the attention that it deserved. On this episode, we’ll be exploring another McCartney B-side that I think deserves a lot more attention, too.

Back in 1987, McCartney was coming off a run of mediocre albums that didn’t receive great reviews and didn’t sell particularly well, either. So, he was looking to mix things up. He was looking for someone to inject some new life into his songwriting. And so he reached out to Elvis Costello.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions had played at one of the last ever shows by Wings, the Concert for the People of Kampuchea Benefit in 1979. And both Paul and Elvis were working in the same studio at one point during the 80’s, so they had met a few times before. By 1987, Elvis had a number of hits, and he was well-respected as a songwriter and critics loved him. He was a natural choice for McCartney to collaborate with.

People were quick to say that Costello would be the new Lenin in the partnership, but I never really saw it that way. Elvis Costello isn’t John Lennon. He had his own thing going. But he did bring a cleverness and a more biting edge than anyone McCartney had written with since Lennon.

The first song McCartney and Costello worked on together was “Back on My Feet”. Paul had the basic melody for the song together, but it wasn’t finished. Let’s hear a bit of McCartney’s original demo for the song.


If you listen to the whole demo, you’ll hear he just repeats that verse again. So, clearly, the lyrics weren’t finished yet. But the idea is there this image of a down on his luck guy, homeless, living on the street.  Elvis would contribute to the lyrics, in particular, expanding on the cinematic language and adding a counter-melody. Recording sessions for the final version began on March 1987 at Hog Hill Studio, which is McCartney’s home studio in East Sussex, England.

This was the first time Paul worked with producer Phil Ramon. The basic track was laid down with Paul on piano, Tim Renwick on guitar, Nick Glennny Smith on keyboards and Charlie Morgan on drums. Paul would later overdub the bass along with some additional guitar and his vocals, and Linda McCartney would add some backing vocals.

I really like the low-key groove of this song. Let’s bring up the drums for a second just to get a better feel for that beat.


So far, the song is largely keyboard focused, but if you listen closely to this next verse, you can hear some very clean electric guitar come in. Sounds like it might be recorded in stereo. It’s nestled pretty low in the mix.


In that verse, we start to get some of that cinematic imagery in the lyrics:

“Cut to the rain as it runs down the glass,
Eventually through the lightning and thunder,
We see a man going under”

It’s almost like they’re directing a film. Let’s go back and bring up the vocals so we can hear some of those lyrics again.


Now we’ve reached the first chorus, and things ramp up here. There’s a distorted guitar that comes in with power chords, and McCartney intensifies his vocals here. Now he’s singing from the perspective of this guy on the street. Costello referred to this character as a “hapless vagabond”. He’s defiant. He’s saying, “I don’t need your love, I just need a hand until I’m back on my feet.”


All right, let’s go back and listen to that again because there’s something odd happening there as we come out of the chorus. It’s like there’s a half of a beat added, or maybe a half of a beat missing. I can’t figure it out. Listen to the snare drum and you’ll really notice it. The snare is hitting on the two and the four of every measure, as usual. But you’ll hear it sort of skip when they come out of the chorus. So here’s the snare drum on the two and the four, as you’d expect But listen to what happens as the chorus reaches the end.


You caught that, right? Let’s play through that change one more time.


Well, I just think that’s an odd choice, because it’s definitely intentional. All right, here’s the next verse.


I really like that series of chord changes behind that part of the verse. Let’s listen to just the instrumental tracks. There comes the next chorus. And notice how they add echoes to Paul’s voice when he hits the word “Sky”:


Great vocals in the chorus, including those harmonies. Let’s listen to that again and bring up the vocals so we can hear that a little better.

And there’s that skipped beat again.

Paul changes his vocal delivery again for this section. Let’s go back and focus on the vocals here.


I really like that “Whoa” at the end there. Let’s go back and listen to that section again with all the parts together.


Notice how they’ve mixed in an electronic drum sound along with the snare drum, just for those four beats between the vocals. We’ll play that again:


Here comes that added snare sound again. Here’s the last verse. It opens once again with a cinematic reference.


McCartney plays a great little bass part there. Let’s hear that again.


On this chorus, Paul sings some additional lines around the main chorus vocals.


And there’s some guitar fills, probably played by Tim Renwick added here:


Elvis Costello said that one of the things he contributed to the song was a counter-melody sung from the perspective of an unsympathetic chorus of onlookers. I’m pretty sure he’s referring to this part coming up:


And the final lines of the song kind of conclude the film or movie imagery here. They sing:

“His face starts to fade as we pull down the shade
and the picture we made is in glorious CinemaScope”

I love McCartney’s last bit of vocals there. As the song fades out, it’s like he’s yelling into the camera of our imagined movie here, defiant till the end. There’s also some nice orchestration with the guitar and the bass behind that part. Let’s back it up and listen through the fade to the end.


“Back on My Feet” by Paul McCartney.

Here’s a song written by two musical legends, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, produced by a legendary producer, Phil Ramone; they put all this effort into writing it and recording it, and then it ends up being relegated to a B-side of a relatively obscure single called “Once Upon a Long Ago” that most people don’t know that as an A-side, let alone what was on the flip side.

If I wrote something half as good as this, I’d consider that a lifetime achievement. For McCartney, it’s just something to fill space on a B-side. His career is just full of gems like this.

Thanks for joining me again on this episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. We’re part of the Pantheon Network of podcasts, home to many great music-related shows, so be sure to check those out, too.

This show will be back in about two weeks, so until then, talk to us on Facebook, send an email to, or write a review on Podchaser or wherever it is that you listen to podcasts.

All of our previous shows can be found on our website,, as well as any place that you can find podcasts. And remember to follow the show so that you never miss an episode.

Thanks for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on “Back On My Feet” by Paul McCartney.

Black Sabbath were at a standstill when it came time to make their 5th album. The ideas just weren’t coming to guitarist Tony Iommi, and without his massive guitar riffs… well, there just wasn’t any Black Sabbath. Weeks were wasted in the studio until he stumbled onto the riff that became “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath“, and then they were off to the races. That song became the opening cut from the album that would bear its name; and the song that would bring that album to a close is “Spiral Architect“, one of the most epic songs the band ever produced. On this episode, we explore the making of this album along with an examination of one of their most ambitious tracks, “Spiral Architect”.

“Spiral Architect” (Words & Music by Black Sabbath) Copyright 1974 Westminster Music Ltd.


Well, welcome back to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast network. My name is Brad Page, and each episode of this show, I pick one of my favorite songs and we’ll explore it together, listening to all the elements and components that make it a great song. You don’t have to know anything about music theory or be a musician to enjoy the show– no technical stuff here. We’re just listening to the performances, arrangements and production that go into creating a great song.

On this edition of the podcast, we’re listening to the Masters of Metal, the band that created the template for literally thousands of bands that would follow; one of the most influential bands in rock history, and a song that, by any measure, is one of their creative peaks on record. We’re of course talking about Black Sabbath, and a song called “Spiral Architect”.

Guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward and singer John Michael “Ozzy” Osborne came together in Birmingham, England in 1968, first as the Polka Tulk Blues Band that also included another guitarist and a saxophone player. But they soon slimmed down to a four piece and changed their name to Earth.

But after discovering there was another band named Earth, they changed their name to Black Sabbath. As the story goes, inspired by the Boris Karloff movie of the same name, they released their first album in February 1970– on Friday the 13th. of course– though it didn’t come out in the US until June 1. It’s considered by many to be the first heavy metal album, though no one really called it that at the time. But this was something new, something different, something distinct from psychedelia or blues rock. There had been heavy bands before, but Black Sabbath were tapping into something new.


The album sold pretty well. This wasn’t the kind of band that was going to have hit singles, at least it didn’t seem like it at the time. But these were the days when albums mattered. FM radio was at its peak creatively and you weren’t dependent on three-minute pop singles. There were other ways to find your audience.

Less than a year later, they released their second album, “Paranoid”. What can you say about this album? It’s in the pantheon of classic albums. It refined and defined the sound of heavy metal. It reached number one on the UK charts and number twelve on the US charts.


They followed that with “Masters of Reality”, their third album released in July 1971. Think about that. Three albums of all new material, released within a year and a half of each other… all three of them, classic albums. Incredible. And this is not unique to Black Sabbath. This was the pace of the music industry at this time. Artists were under pressure to deliver one, two, sometimes three albums in a year. And it’s unbelievable to see how many artists delivered. They were able to produce album after album of great material in such a short amount of time.

So, of course, Black Sabbath were at it again, releasing their fourth album, “Vol. Four”, in September 1972. They had gone to Los Angeles to record this one, renting a mansion in Bel Air, where the party never stopped. In fact, it followed them right into the Record Plant recording studio. The drugs were beginning to affect the work, but they were able to pull it together for another solid album.


The exhausting cycle of record, then tour, then record, then tour some more, wore on them. And by 1973, they had to cancel a US tour for their own health and sanity. But, guitarist and de facto band leader Tony Iommi was itching to make another record.

Tony was ambitious. He was watching Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Yes, the Rolling Stones and The Who put out one monstrous album after another. And he wanted a piece of that action, too. He was concerned that Black Sabbath was stagnating and he was putting a lot of pressure on himself.

So they headed back to LA, back to the same studio and that same mansion, figuring it worked for them last time. Except this time, it didn’t.

Maybe it was the pressure, maybe it was the drugs. Maybe it was the surroundings or the distractions, probably combination of all of that. But Tony developed some kind of writer’s block. The ideas just weren’t coming. They spent days, weeks working on new material, but nothing came of it. Eventually, Tony gave up and the band returned to England with nothing to show for it.

Back in England, they set up shop in an 18th century Gothic castle that had been outfitted with a recording studio. Of course, the place was rumored to be haunted; sounds like a perfect place for Black Sabbath.

So they got back to work, but for days, it wasn’t any more productive than their sessions in LA. Until Tony came up with the riff that would become the title song of the next record, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. That was the key that unlocked his writer’s block. And then they were back in business.

They ended up with a really strong album. The record opens with the title cut, an instant Black Sabbath classic. And the album ends with “Spiral Architect”, one of their most ambitious tracks. “Spiral Architect” is credited to all four members of the band: Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osborne. As usual with most Sabbath songs, Geezer wrote the lyrics.

The album was produced by Black Sabbath and engineered by Mike Butcher. The song begins with Tony Iommi’s acoustic guitar. He’s playing a series of arpeggiated patterns that use a lot of open strings on his guitar, which allows certain notes to ring out clear for long stretches.


Then the electric guitar takes over and the whole mood changes where the acoustic guitar has kind of an intimate, melancholy feel to it. The electric guitar riff sounds big and majestic. Sounds to me like there’s an electric guitar on the right and an acoustic a little lower in the mix on the left. Then when the band comes in, there’s another electric guitar added on the left. I’m not sure if the acoustic guitar is still in there or not. See what you think. Here we get a new riff. This one has almost a jazzy prog-rock element to it. I don’t know if they intended it or not, but I think that riff has a spiral feel to it. And then there’s a simple but pretty effective drum fill by Bill Ward that leads us into the first verse. Now let’s hear that all together and onwards into the first verse.


Interesting chord progression behind the verse. Probably not what most people would expect when they think of Black Sabbath. Let’s hear just the instrumental track.

And this is a great vocal from Ozzy. He’s in really good form here. One thing you will always hear on Ozzy vocals is double-tracking. From what I’ve read, he will record one line at a time, and then sing that line again, trying to match it as closely as he can. And he’ll do that, one line at a time, through the whole song. Of course, you can never do it 100% the same, but that is what makes double-tracking special, as opposed to using a short echo or chorus effect ,or digitally copying the part. Those small little differences are what can make double-tracking sound magical.


Next, we land at the first chorus. Musically, this part is great, too. There’s a string section here that really adds some drama. And I like the way Geezer Butler’s bass primarily hangs around one note while the rest of the music swirls around him. Let’s hear just the instrumental tracks first.


It leads back to the main riff at the end of the chorus there. Let’s hear it with Ozzy’s vocals added back in.

Bill Ward is augmenting his drums there with timpani, those big kettle drums that booming sound really adds to the orchestral feel. It just makes that part sound so epic. Let’s back it up a bit and listen for those timpani drums.

Let’s listen to Bill Ward’s drum fill there. And here’s the second verse.

Then comes the second chorus, and the lyrics here are a little different this time around.

You know, Black Sabbath has this reputation for being dark and foreboding, and of course they’ve earned that. But not every song is like that. This song is really life-affirming. Geezer Butler wrote these lyrics sitting on his front yard watching the sun come up… life was good, and I think that’s what this song is about. At least that’s what I take from it. In a world that can often be harsh, you got to learn to appreciate the good.

“Of all the things I value most in life,
I see my memories and feel their warmth
 and know that they are good.”

Let’s hear that full chorus.


That leads us into an extended instrumental section. But there’s no wailing guitar solo in this song. Instead, you’re taken further on this epic journey largely by the strings.

In the credits for this song, besides guitar, Tony Iommi is credited for playing bagpipes. But in his autobiography, “Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath”, he says he never actually played bagpipes on this song. He wanted to. In fact, he bought a set of bagpipes, brought them into the studio and started blowing into them, but nothing came out. He spent hours on it, and eventually decided that these bagpipes must be defective. So he sent them back to the store. They checked them out and said, “there’s nothing wrong with these”. So he took them back into the studio and attached a vacuum cleaner to them, figuring that that would blow some air into them. But the only sound he got on tape was the noise from the vacuum cleaner. After wasting a few more hours on that, he gave up. I love that story.

Instead, they just went with the strings, which were arranged by Will Malones up in the mix.

And now the final verse. The strings are especially great here, too.


Let’s hear the vocals on this final chorus.


Now this end is very intriguing. It builds to this huge climax. Then there’s the sound of an audience applauding that was overdubbed by their engineer, Mike Butcher. He probably pulled that from some sound effects library or something.

Okay, fine. I can see how that’s a nice way to end the song, and the album, with a round of applause. But then the band comes back in, mostly the bass and drums, and just kind of jams for a minute for a short fade-out. Is that anticlimactic or is that representative of the never- ending song, the continuing journey, the endless spiral? You decide.


Black Sabbath – “Spiral Architect”

The album “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” sold well. It became a fan favorite, and actually earned them some good reviews for once. More importantly, though, it’s a favorite among the band members themselves.

In his book, Tony said “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” was the pinnacle. Ozzy called it their “final album”, which of course, it wasn’t– they would make more albums after that– but what he meant was that after “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, they lost their way a bit. It was never the same. There would be good songs after that, but this was the beginning of the end.  Ozzy quit the band in 1977, but came back, and then was fired for good in 1979. Bill Ward left in 1980.

Of course, there would be reunions down the road, and pretty miraculously, all four original members are still alive today at the time of this recording. That’s saying something.

Thanks for joining me once again on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. We’re not going anywhere– we’ll be back in about two weeks with another new episode. In the meantime, you can find all of our previous shows on our website,, or find us on your favorite podcast app.

And if you’re still looking for even more music related podcasts, be sure to check out the other shows right here on the Pantheon Podcast Network.

If you want to support the show, the absolute best thing you can do is to tell a friend about it. Share the show with your music love and friends, because that helps to spread the word.

I can’t wait to get back here and do the next episode, so I will see you soon. Thanks for listening to this edition on “Spiral Architect” by Black Sabbath.

Queen were at the top of their game and weren’t resting on their laurels when they released “Somebody To Love” as a single in 1976.  Building on the layered vocals they pioneered on “Bohemian Rhapsody” the year before, “Somebody To Love” was inspired by Freddie’s love for Aretha Franklin.  On this episode, we examine the various elements of this outstanding track.

“Somebody To Love” (Freddie Mercury) Copyright 1976 Queen Music Ltd. Copyright Renewed All Rights Administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our previous show on “Keep Yourself Alive“:
Queen – “Keep Yourself Alive” – The “I’m In Love With That Song” Podcast – Music Commentary, Song Analysis & Rock History (

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Tie your mother down, because it’s time for another edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. I’m your host, Brad Page, and each episode here on the Pantheon Podcast Network, I pick one of my favorite songs and we dive into it together, listening to all the elements that make it a great song. Don’t worry if you’re not a musician, because we don’t get into music theory or technical jargon, but the performances, the arrangement and the production– that’s all fair game here.

This time around, we’re revisiting a legendary band that, if anything, is more popular and respected today than ever. And this song happens to be one of their biggest hits. It’s Queen, with “Somebody To Love”.

Back in episode number 63, we explored “Keep Yourself Alive”, one of Queen’s earliest songs. If you’d like to hear that show, you can find it on our website or in your podcast feed.

This time we’re visiting Queen during their middle period, when they had just become huge stars; they had released “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and of course, it just knocked everyone out. It was a huge hit and the album that preceded it, “Night at the Opera”, was a masterpiece, in my opinion, one of the greatest albums of the decade.

So you would think the band would feel themselves under tremendous pressure for the follow up, but more than anything, they felt freedom. The success of “Night at the Opera” gave them freedom, financially and creatively. So during the summer of 1976, they headed into their next album with confidence.

They had worked with producer Roy Thomas Baker on the previous couple of albums, but this time they decided to produce the album themselves with the help of sound engineer Mike Stone, who had also worked on their last few albums.

Most of the recording for the album was done at the Manor Studio, an actual manor house owned by Richard Branson, the head of Virgin Records. They wrapped up recording with some sessions at SARM East and Wessex Sound studios. And in December 1976, the album was released.

With another nod to the Marks Brothers, they named this album “A Day at the Races”. The first single from the album was “Somebody to Love”. The song was written by Freddie Mercury and totally inspired by his love for Aretha Franklin. According to guitarist Brian May, Freddie wanted to be Aretha Franklin.

This was Freddy’s version of gospel, or at least as close as an Englishman born in Zanzibar was going to get. And Freddie was really proud of this song. He even said that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was okay, a big hit, but “Somebody To Love” was a better song. The band loved it, too. Brian May remembers thinking,” this is going to be something great”.

The song features Brian May on guitar, John Deacon on bass, Roger Taylor on drums, and Freddie Mercury on piano and lead vocal. The backing vocals are all by Freddie, Brian and Roger. Nobody else, just their three voices overdubbed multiple times.

I remember as a kid, the first time I saw the video for this song, I thought, “wait a minute, there’s only four people in this band”. I figured there had to be at least a dozen people. That was the first song where I learned about overdubbing.

So let’s get into it. If you listen closely, the very first thing you hear is a piano chord, very faintly in the background. I’m going to turn that up as much as I can just so you can hear it a little clearer. I assume that chord was there just to establish the key before they start singing. The next thing we hear is the solitary falsetto voice of Fredie Mercury.


Then the sounds of Roger Taylor, Brian May and Freddie, overdubbed multiple times to create a virtual gospel choir.


There’s a brief pause, and then Freddie comes in on piano. You can hear Roger Taylor hit his hi-hat, and then the bass and drums come in together.

All right, let’s talk about the rhythm or the meter of this song.

Now, I always say that we don’t get into music theory here. We try not to get too technical. And honestly, I’m not really interested in that stuff myself. But hang in there with me here because I want to look at the time signature of this song.

Part of what makes this song great is the feel of the song. And that feel, that groove, that rhythm is all due to the time signature. So let’s talk about it.

Your typical rock or pop song. Uh, most songs really are in 4/4 time. That means four beats per measure. You count 1-2-3-4 and then you loop back around, right? Some songs are in ¾  time. That’s three beats per measure. That’s most commonly associated with waltzes. This song is in 12/8 time.

That sounds complex, but 12/8 time actually has a really natural, flowing feel to it. And the thing that’s kind of cool about it is that it’s sort of a mix or a mashup of, 4/4 and 3/4 time together. It’s kind of like you have a 3/4 feel nestled within a 4/4 rhythm.

So you can count the song out as if it was in 4/4 time, like this: 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4.

But when you go a layer deeper, you can feel the 3/4 rhythm, like this one, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3.

So, simplifying it a bit, you have four groups of three: 1-2-3, 2-2-3, 23-2-3, 4-2-3. So, you end up with this sort of swirling, spiraling feel– it works perfectly for this song.

And a little tip to store away for future reference: If you’re ever listening to a song and you can count it in both 3/4 and 4/4 time, and you’re not sure which one it really is, it just might be in 12/8 time. Now, let’s listen to this first verse:


The first line of that verse, “Each morning I get up, I die a little”, that’s pretty bleak. The lyrics to this song are a little dark. It’s not a joyful song. Let’s focus on the vocals here.


I really like the way Roger Taylor’s drums accent that part. Let’s listen to that.

There’s a little instrumental break before we get to the next verse.

I work till I ache in my bones”. I used to think he sang “Ache in my balls” there. But either way, I get the feeling.


Okay, a couple of things to note here. First, John Deacon is playing a great bass part. And Freddie’s vocals during this section– Incredible.


So great. He keeps that intensity up right into this next section.

This is the first time in the song that we hear Brian May’s guitar. Up until now, it’s just been piano, bass and drums with all the layered vocals. You don’t really realize just how stripped down the instrumentation is. Brian’s been sitting it out so far, but he starts to add some guitar tracks here. Let’s check those out.

I’m hearing three guitar parts, one on the left and one on the right. Both of those are playing pretty much the same thing. And a third guitar part right in the center.

Brian May, one of the great guitar players of all time. Both his style and his sound are immediately recognizable. That’s something that few guitarists really achieve. Some of that sound can be chalked up to his custom made “Red Special” guitar that he built himself, but it’s more than that. Any great guitarist, the sound is in the fingers, and he’d sound like Brian May regardless of what guitar or amp he was playing through. Let’s listen to this solo.


Queen was just one of those bands where every member was at the top of their game. Let’s hear the next section.


Another nice bass run from John Deacon. Let’s go back and hear that.


And let’s go back and listen to just the vocal tracks for this verse.


Of course, this is where they pause for the choral section that starts off soft, and slowly builds. Let’s play through this whole section and just listen to how the vocal layers continue to develop and change each cycle.

Roger Taylor builds up the drum part too, and hand claps are added. If you can listen on headphones here, I recommend it because you can really hear the subtle placement of different vocal layers across the stereo field that really adds depth to this section.


Freddie is just great there at the end. And just when you think the song is over, they kick right back in.


Let’s go back to the final mix, and notice how Freddie is pounding on one note on the piano here.


I love that ending. It’s like he’s drifting off to sleep, just exhausted from pouring his heart out.


“Somebody To Love” by Queen.

As far as I’m concerned, “Night at the Opera” and “Day at the Races” are two of a perfect pair. Two masterpieces. The fact that one band could create two albums like this back-to-back, only a year apart… it’s incredible, and a testament to just how great this band was. There were more great Queen albums to come, but for me, these two albums are the pinnacle.

Thanks for joining me for this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. We are part of the Pantheon Network of podcasts, home to many other shows that celebrate the artists and the music that we all love.

New episodes of this show are released on the 1st and the 15th of every month. So I’ll be back soon with our next episode. Until then, you can listen to all of our previous shows on our website, You can also find this show wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Thanks again for listening to this episode on Queen and “Somebody To Love”.