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!

TRANSCRIPT:

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.

[Music].

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.”

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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

[Music]

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

[Music]

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”:

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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

[Music]

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:

[Music]

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

[Music]

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

[Music]

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

[Music]

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

[Music]

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:

[Music]

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.

[Music]

“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 lovethatsongpodcast@gmail.com, 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, lovethatsongpodcast.com, 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.

TRANSCRIPT:

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

Let’s hear the vocals on this final chorus.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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, lovethatsongpodcast.com, 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 (lovethatsongpodcast.com)

— Don’t forget to follow this show, so you never miss an episode!

TRANSCRIPT:

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.

[Music]

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

[Music]

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:

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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

[Music]

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

[Music]

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

[Music]

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.

[Music]

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

[Music]

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

[Music]

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

[Music]

“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, lovethatsongpodcast.com. You can also find this show wherever you listen to podcasts.

You can keep in touch with us on Facebook, just look for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast and you’ll find us. If you’d like to leave a review or comments, the best place to do that is on podchaser.com. And if you’d really like to support the show, the best thing you can do is just tell people about it. Share it with your friends.

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

Never heard of Starbelly? You should have. But it’s not your fault. There was a bit of a resurgence of “power pop” bands in the late-90’s/early 2000’s that generated a lot of GREAT albums, but for some inexplicable reason, not much commercial breakthrough (Fountains Of Wayne being one of the few exceptions). Starbelly’s debut album “Lemon Fresh” was simply brilliant, and it’s one of my favorite records. On this episode, we dive into “This Time“, the song that opens this album, along with a special guest to tell the story– Cliff Hillis, Starbelly guitarist & vocalist who played on this album.

“This Time” (Dennis Schocket) Copyright 1998 Eleven Twenty Ate Music/ASCAP

— This show is one of many great music-related podcasts on the Pantheon network. And remember to follow this show, so you never miss an episode.

On this episode, we pay a little tribute to the great Tina Turner, with an exploration of the song she wrote about her humble beginnings in a little town called Nutbush, TN.  Join us on a journey down Highway 19 to visit “Nutbush City Limits”.

“Nutbush City Limits” (Words & Music by Tina Turner) Copyright 1973 EMI Blackwood Music Inc and EMI Unart Catalog Inc.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Welcome to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. My name is Brad Page, and I’m on a mission to uncover and rediscover my favorite songs, to get a better understanding of what makes them work and why I love them so much. Thanks for joining me on this journey here on the Pantheon Podcast Network. Everyone is welcome here– no musical knowledge or experience is required. If you love music and are even just a little curious about what goes into making a great song, you’re in the right place.

It’s reality that we are all getting older. I don’t care how young or old you are. We are all heading in one direction. And as we age, so do the artists that inspired us, that have moved us and, um, accompanied us through our journeys through life. Inevitably, we will lose these artists to the ravages of time.

The rock stars of my youth are no longer young. And over the last few years, we have lost so many artists that were such a part of our lives. And it’s just a fact that all of you will experience. Again, it doesn’t matter how old you are, or when you grew up… someday Janet Jackson will be an old woman; someday Britney Spears will be old; someday Taylor Swift will be an old woman. And that’s if they’re lucky– that they make it that far. There’s no shame or insult in that. It’s just the way it is. And nothing will shine a light on your own mortality than the death of an artist that you grew up with, that remains young and vibrant whenever you think of them.

This is all to set the tone for this episode because we’re talking about Tina Turner today, who passed away recently in May of 2023. I have been working on this episode off and on for a while. In fact, I first got the idea for this show back in 2017 when, on a road trip, we came near Nutbush, Tennessee. We never actually got to stop in Nutbush, but seeing the name reminded me of the song and that that would be a pretty good subject for a podcast episode.

So it went on my list, which is a pretty long list of podcast ideas. But one good thing about songs is that there’s no shortage of great ones. So this episode has been in the works for a while. It was about 80% done, just waiting for an opportunity for me to finish it up. And then Tina died… which I’m always of two minds about these situations, because I don’t want to take advantage of, or jump on the bandwagon, or be seen as “cashing in” in any way on the death of somebody, especially an artist as important as Tina Turner. And make no mistake, she is an historically important artist, but she should be remembered, she should be paid tribute to and she should be celebrated.

So I’m going to go ahead with this episode. Keep in mind that most of this was recorded before she passed away. It wasn’t originally meant to be a posthumous tribute, but I think it’s still relevant today. S

So, in honor of Tina, let’s take a road trip down to Nutbush, Tennessee, with Ike and Tina Turner, and “Nutbush City Limits”.

[Music]

Ike Turner was a journeyman musician. It was his band, the Kings Of Rhythm, that recorded “Rocket 88”, considered by many to be the first rock and roll song. Though he wasn’t credited for it– it was credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, which always ticked Ike off.

[Music]

Ike also worked as kind of a talent scout for Sun Records and Modern Records, and spent some time as a session musician playing piano on records for people like BB King and Howlin’ Wolf.

She ended up in East St Louis, playing with his band, the Kings of Rhythm, and that’s where he met Anna Mae Bullock in 1957. She became a fan of the band when she was 17. She saw them whenever she could, and then she began singing with the Kings of Rhythm. They made their first record together in 1958, a song called “Box Top” with Anna Mae, nicknamed “Little Anne” on backing vocals.

[Music]

They had their first big hit in 1960 with a song called “A Fool In Love”, this time credited to Ike and Tina Turner.

[Music]

Ike was the one who changed her name to Tina. By then, she was already pregnant with their first child. Ike was married to another woman at the time; he had already been married at least four times, maybe six times by then. When she was in the hospital having that baby, Ike hired another woman to pretend to be Tina on stage so he could keep playing gigs and getting paid. When Tina found out, she checked herself out of the hospital, went to the gig and punched out that fake Tina and then finished the gig herself.

In 1962, they got married. She was 23, he was 31, and Ike hadn’t even bothered to divorce any of his previous wives.

The abuse started early. When she told Ike she didn’t want to change her name to Tina, he hit her. That was the first of many. He slept around and abused her all through their relationship, and he worked her to exhaustion.

By 1966, the hits had started to dry up. Producer Phil Specter was also going through a dry patch when he saw Ike & Tina perform on “The Big TNT” show in late 1965. Go check out that performance on YouTube– they were on fire that night.

[Music]

Phil Spector, being the control freak that he was, was not about to work with another control freak like Ike Turner. So, they cut a deal: Spector paid Ike a bunch of money to stay away from the studio, and Phil would make the record without him. Though “River Deep Mountain High” is credited as an “Ike and Tina Turner” release, Ike really had nothing to do with making that record.

Though the song didn’t sell as well as everyone hoped, it’s become a true classic; on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, “River Deep Mountain High” came in at number 33.

[Music]

The Rolling Stones– and this time we’re talking about the band, not the magazine– The Rolling Stones loved this song, and invited Ike and Tina to support them on a British tour. It was the first of a few tours where Tina would open for the Stones, and this exposed her to a whole new, and much bigger, audience.

One of the interesting things about both Tina and Ike is that neither one of them really wanted to be known as R&B performers, even though that’s what paid the bills. Their musical preferences were really elsewhere. So they were perfectly happy to venture further into rock and roll. And that’s where they’d find their biggest hits, with their versions of songs like “Proud Mary”, “Honky Tonk Woman” and “I Want To Take You Higher:.

[Music]

Ike opened his own recording studio and Tina did some session work there, providing vocals, including for tracks by Frank Zappa.

[Music]

As they got more successful behind the scenes, life with Ike was getting worse. More cocaine meant more violence. She had attempted suicide in 1968. It wouldn’t be the last time. Eventually, she left him in 1976. Their divorce was finalized in March 1978.

But back in 1973, they were still together when Tina wrote “Nutbush City Limits”. While Ike was becoming more and more difficult to work with, Tina was finding her own footing. She wrote “Nutbush City Limits”. But after it became a hit, Ike tried to take credit for it. But clearly this is Tina’s song. She wrote it about the town she grew up in.

Unfortunately, there’s no credits on the album, and there doesn’t appear to be much documentation as to who played on the song. Mark Bolan of T Rex may have played guitar on the track; it is confirmed that he played guitar on at least one other Ike & Tina song, so it is possible. It’s also been claimed that James Lewis, a member of Ike & Tina’s backing band, played guitar on the track. They both could be on the track. Who really knows?

The song opens with one guitar, maybe played by Mark Bolan, in the center channel. After a couple of bars, another guitar with a wah-wah pedal appears in the left channel.

Here come the horns on the right. The drums come in there, but it’s just the kick and the snare drum. No hi-hat, no cymbals. And they’re going to hold off on the cymbals for quite a while. The bass is also going to lay back for a while.

[Music]

She’s telling us about her little hometown, but she’s not using full sentences. These are barely even phrases. They’re just impressions. A church house, gin house, schoolhouse, outhouse… but you can see the town taking shape in your head, right?

Highway 19 is a small rural state route that runs through this part of Tennessee, I believe it’s about 43 miles long. And a stretch of Route 19 between Brownsville and Nutbush is officially called Tina Turner Highway.

[Music]

When she hits the end of the chorus, the bass comes in, along with a clavinet. A clavinet is an electric keyboard instrument; it was based on the clavichord, an instrument from the Middle Ages. But the clavinet is a relatively new instrument, developed in 1964. It has a very distinctive sound. It’s almost guitar like, but not quite. It’s really its own thing. Of course, it was Stevie Wonder who really popularized the sound of the clavinet on songs like “Superstition”.  Here, the clavinet is kind of accentuating the bass guitar part. Let’s go back and pick it up right before the bass comes in.

[Music]

“25 was the speed limit, motorcycle not allowed in it.” I love that line, it’s so specific. You can also hear that a low, droning note on a keyboard comes in there.

[Music]

There’s a chime or a bell in the right channel. There’s some interesting choices of percussion in this song, and that bell will continue to pop up in the right channel. And the drummer is finally going to play some hi-hat coming up. Listen for that when the vocal comes back in.

[Music]

Listening to the horn part; at first I thought there might be a synthesizer playing along with them, but now I’m not sure. I think it’s probably just horns, but see what you think.

[Music]

Let’s hear that verse with the vocals.

[Music]

Let’s play that chorus again and listen to her vocal. She does a nice little scream in there. And the way she cracks her voice on the word “city”, that is a Tina trademark right there.

[Music]

Now this is where the song takes a total left turn, I think. There is a synthesizer solo that comes out of nowhere, and it feels totally incongruous to me. I don’t know if this was Ike’s idea, he’s credited as producer on the album. At the time, synthesizers were still pretty new. They probably thought they were doing something innovative or updating their sound. But now, to me at least, this is the thing that sounds the most dated about the song. I guess there’s a lesson in there about relying too much on conspicuous technology.

And there’s also that incessant percussion part in the right channel. And that brings us to the last verse where that synthesizer is going to have a little back and forth with Tina’s vocal.

[Music]

And that last line, “salt pork and molasses is all you get in jail”. Again, so specific. And I love the way she sings that line.

[Music]

And I love the way she phrases that line, “It’s called a quiet little old community”. There’s a long pause she puts in between “it’s called” and “a quiet little old community”. And the way she hits the word “quiet”, it’s just so great.

[Music]

Let’s pick it back up and play it out through the fade. “A one horse town. You have to watch what you’re putting down in old Nutbush.”

[Music]

Ike and Tina Turner, “Nutbush City Limits”.

Nutbush, Tennessee remains a small rural town. There’s a sign over the town grocery store proclaiming it as the “birthplace of Tina Turner”. And then there’s that stretch of Highway 19 that’s named after her, Tina Turner Highway. I’m sure if you go there today, there will be memorials, flowers and tributes laid out in her honor.

There have been memorials and tributes pouring in from every corner of the world, and the internet is full of them. It’s a safe bet that every music-related podcast has discussed Tina in some fashion lately. So, I’m not going to explain all of the ways that she made a difference, all of the barriers she broke down gender, race, age, and how many people she influenced. There are other podcasts that have done that and probably done it better than I can. We’ll never know how many women who, inspired by Tina’s example, escaped an abusive relationship. For that alone, she deserves our respect.

But it will always be the music that she’ll be most remembered for. That will be her lasting impact. Her records leaped out of the grooves with energy and intensity, and as a live performer, she was hard to top. Thanks for everything, Tina.

And thanks to you for listening. The “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast comes your way twice a month, on the first and the 15th of every month, so make sure you follow the show in your favorite podcast app so that you never miss an episode.

We are part of the Pantheon Podcast Network, where you’ll find an endless supply of great podcasts.

Keep on listening and thanks for being here for this episode on Tina Turner and “Nutbush City Limits”

When The Shazam tumbled out of Nashville in 1994, they should’ve landed as one of the biggest rock bands in America. Instead, they merely left us with 5 fantastic albums of hard-rocking power pop that lodged them on my list of all-time favorite bands. If you’ve never heard them before, here’s your chance to discover their greatness with a song called “On The Airwaves” – certified one of the Coolest Songs In The World.

“On The Airwaves” (Hans Rotenberry) Copyright 1994, 1999, 2000 Clut Guckle Music (SESAC)

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TRANSCRIPT:

Welcome to the “I’m in Love With That Song” podcast, where we use the wisdom of Solomon, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus… but maybe not the speed of Mercury, to explore the magic and mysteries of music.

I’m Brad Page, your host here on the Pantheon Podcast network. Each episode, I pick a favorite song of mine and we delve into it together, discovering what makes it a great song. To date, we’ve explored well over 100 songs; this episode features a song that’s been on my to do list since day one. This is one of my favorite songs, from one of my favorite bands ever. You maybe never heard of this band before, and that’s okay, in fact, I envy you a bit because you get to discover this band for the first time. This is The Shazam with a song called “On The Airwaves”.

[Music]

Shazam was founded around 1994 by Hans Rotenberry. Hans fell in love with music at an early age. His first two favorite singles were Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline” and “Love Me Do” by the Beatles– off to a pretty good start, I think.

He’d been playing in bands as a guitarist and writing songs, but he was never able to find the right singer. So, probably out of frustration more than anything else, he decided to try singing these songs himself. So he went into the studio with drummer Scott Ballew and producer Brad Jones to record some demos. It worked out well enough that they decided to make it official and put a band together. Hans and Scott recruited a 16-year-old bass player named Mick Wilson, and The Shazam played their first gig on August 11, 1994.

They built an audience the old-fashioned way, by playing shows, including the big power pop festivals. And in 1997, they released their first self-titled album. There’s not a bad song on it. Here’s a track from that record. It’s called “Oh No”.

[Music]

In 1999, they released their second album, again produced by Brad Jones. It’s called “Godspeed The Shazam”. At this point, they weren’t sure if they’d ever get to make another record, so they really went for it on this album. It’s an all-out, go-for-broke effort. Another killer album. Check out this track, it’s called “Sunshine Tonight”.

[Music]

Around this time, they were joined by an unofficial fourth member, Jeremy Asbrock. Jeremy had been working with them as a recording engineer and he was a friend of the band, but he was also a great guitar player and he would join them on stage to fill out their sound.

The band headed to the UK for some pretty high-profile gigs, including a BBC event at Abbey Road, and opening for Paul Weller at Earl’s Court.

The record label was looking for some new material to release, something they could get out quick, capitalize on some of the success they were having and make a few bucks to offset the cost of that UK trip. The band didn’t have anything ready, but Hans had a handful of songs that he was working on for a solo album, which they quickly turned into Shazam songs. Hans also had the idea to record a cover version of the Beatles “Revolution Number 9”, which was kind of a dare, but the record company said OK. And so the Shazam did one of the most audacious things I’ve ever heard: their take on “Revolution Number 9”.

[Music]

So they took their version of “Revolution 9”, along with those repurposed solo songs and a couple of old Shazam leftovers that they re-recorded, and they put them together on a seven song EP that they called “Rev 9”, which was released in 2000.

Now, one of those leftovers was a demo from 1995 that they had never finished. They polished it off and used it as the opening track for the “Rev 9” EP. Little Steven, on his radio show “Underground Garage”, would choose this song as one of the coolest songs in the world. In fact, years later, when Little Steven would release a series of CD’s that collected all of the coolest songs in the world, for Volume One, song number one, he chose this song: “On The Airwaves”.

[Music]

“On The Airwaves” was performed by Scott Ballew on drums, Mick Wilson on bass (playing an 8-string bass, actually), and Hans Rotenberry on lead vocals and guitars. He also played a Theremin and a bunch of other sound effects, as we’ll hear. The song was produced by Brad Jones.

The song begins with what I think is one of the greatest opening riffs of all time. It’s a big sounding, epic introduction that just demands attention, and that rattling tambourine is a nice addition. Let’s play through the intro. After two times around on the riff, Scott does a drum fill and Mick’s bass follows the guitar.

Then we hear the first of those sound effects at the end of that last chord. Hans is going to pluck at that single guitar string to hold the tension before letting loose with the title of the song, and they break into the main riff.

[Music]

Speaker C: Essentially, that’s a 4-note part. But there’s so much going on, it sounds massive. First, let’s hear the bass guitar. Mick is playing an 8-string Hamer bass through a Big Muff fuzz pedal.

Then there’s an overdubbed guitar part in the left channel on the final mix. I believe this was played on a Hamer Standard, through either a Vox AC 30 amp or a Peavey Classic 30. There’s also a Big Muff pedal on this guitar, too. And then there’s a bunch of overdubbed instruments playing that same riff. There’s a couple of Theremins, a Mellotron on the saxophone setting, a vocoder, and a bunch of guitars run through various effects.

[Music]

It makes for one glorious cacophony of sound waves blasting out in all directions.

The Shazam never made a video for the song, but if they did, Hans envisioned them in some post-apocalyptic world, driving across the wasteland, broadcasting their message to all the last surviving misfits.

Here comes the first verse. There’s a slight pause, and then Hans comes in with the vocals. Sounds like he’s doubled his vocals here. Scott is doing some great drumming all through this song. Let’s go back and listen to his drums, especially those tasty little fills.

[Music]

We hear a couple of guitar parts there. There’s a rhythm guitar part. Let’s hear that. And then there’s a second guitar playing this part:

[Music]

And for good measure, let’s hear what the bass is doing there. You can really hear that he’s playing an 8-string bass here. Let’s go back and hear that altogether.

[Music]

Here’s the second verse, and I love this verse.

“Radio of the deevolution, what do you say?
The lunatics, the hit parade,
Don’t listen, Mayday Mayday
Talking about the only thing we know, on the airwaves .

Let’s listen to that vocal track first.

[Music]

I love that. Now, underneath that, there’s still all of these crazy sound effects going on. The theremin, mellotron, radio static, manipulated tape echo… There’s even a piano part which you’ll hear towards the end. Let’s listen to all of that.

[Music]

I can picture them barreling across the post-apocalyptic wasteland, broadcasting this out. Let’s go back to the final mix and hear it all together and see what you can pick out in the background now that you know it’s there.

[Music]

That brings us to the bridge, which begins with a pretty heavy riff.

So let’s explore this next part. First, I just want to listen to Scott Ballew’s drums, because he’s playing great during this part. And there’s more of those radio effects going on, including some nonsense vocals, very low in the background.  Let’s hear a bit of that.

[Music]

And let’s pick it up when the vocals come in.

“Late at night we’re singing tunes
from deep inside our basement rooms,
lurking on our secret frequency
and in the dark red meters glow a message to the freaks”

And now there’s a nice little piano part under that, and from there, it builds back up for the final refrain

[Music]Notice the tambourine here. There’s the sound of a classic tape echo here. Probably an Echoplex, manipulating it by hand, slowing the tape down to get that descending echo. And let’s listen to what the bass is doing here at the end. You can really hear that 8-string in full effect.

[Music]

Play that back all the way through, with what I assume is a little bit of vocoder at the end.

After the “Rev 9” EP, The Shazam released another full length album called “Tomorrow The World” in 2002. That’s a great album…in fact, that may be my favorite Shazam album.

After that, Mick Wilson left the band and they recruited a new bass player, Mike Vargo, and Jeremy Asbrock finally joined the band as an official full-time member. They released one more album, “Meteor”, in 2009. That album was produced by Mack, a legendary producer who worked with Queen and ELO, just to name a few.

But unfortunately, things just came to an end, as they often do. I wish I understood why some artists catch on and others don’t. In my opinion, The Shazam were one of the best bands to come along in the last 30 years. Seriously, I would stack them up against any band that’s made a record in the last 30 years. They should have sold a million records and played stadiums, but it just didn’t happen.

The good thing, though, is that this music is still out there. You can find these CDs, you can stream all of these songs –and I want you to do it. Go find The Shazam. You will love this music, I promise.

Bassist Mick Wilson more or less retired from the music biz, though he does still play around. His replacement, Mike Vargo, is still playing and he’s actually got a pretty successful career going, including playing Paul McCartney in a McCartney tribute project.

Sadly, drummer Scott Ballew took his own life in April 2019.

I want to thank both Jeremy Asbrock and Hans Rotenberry for helping me with this episode. Hans was especially generous with his time. Jeremy has earned a great reputation as a hired gun guitarist and he’s just launched a new band called Rock City Machine Company. Check them out.

And Hans, he put out an album with Brad Jones in 2010 called “Mountain Jack”. It’s a great record.  And as we speak, he’s compiling material for a deluxe reissue of the “Godspeed The Shazam” album. And when that’s available, I’d love to have him on the show. Maybe we can do a track by track or something. That’d be fun.

Anyway, thanks to both Jeremy and Hans for sharing their stories with me, and I thank you for listening. I’ll be back in two weeks with another new episode. If you’d like to get caught up on all of our previous shows, you’ll find them all on our website, lovethatsongpodcast.com, or listen to the show on your favorite podcast app. We’re on Amazon, we’re on Apple, we’re on Google Podcast, we’re on Spotify and Pandora and iHeartRadio… you name it, we’re on there.

Remember to support the artists that you love, like I love The Shazam, by buying their music, and you can support this show by just telling people about it. Won’t cost you a thing, and it really helps spreading the word. I’ll see you soon. Thanks for listening to this episode on The Shazam and “On The Airwaves”.

Gary Moore was never a household name, but among guitar players, he was a legend.  He reinvented himself multiple times over his 40-year career: first as a hard-rocker with Thin Lizzy, then a jazzy prog-rocker with Colosseum in the 70’s; pioneering a modern heavy-metal sound in the 80’s, and playing the blues in the ‘90’s.  On this episode, we delve into a track from his 1987 Celtic-flavored hard rock album, “Wild Frontier”.

“Over The Hills and Far Away” (Gary Moore) Copyright 1986 EMI 10 Music Ltd. All rights in the US and Canada controlled and administered by EMI Virgin Songs, Inc

— This show is just one of many great Rock Podcasts on the Pantheon Podcasts network. Get ’em while they’re red hot!  And don’t forget to follow our show, so you never miss an episode!

TRANSCRIPT:
Welcome, Citizens of the World, to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast Network.

One thing that’s shared by almost every culture, in every part of the world throughout history, is that music plays an important part in celebration, in worship, in recreation, in making even the hardest jobs more bearable. Music, it’s part of life, and if you’re from a culture that doesn’t celebrate music… well, I feel sorry for you. On this podcast, we celebrate that greatest form of music: the kind that ROCKS.

Every edition of this podcast, I pick one of my favorite songs and we explore it together on our never-ending quest to discover what goes into making a great song.

Last episode, we spent some quality time with one of my favorite bands, Thin Lizzy. One name that kept popping up on that show was Gary Moore. I wanted to spend a little bit more time with Gary Moore, one of the greatest guitarists of his generation.

He had a long and always evolving history; his career lasted over four decades, most of it underappreciated, I think. On this episode, we’re going to take a look at a song from right about in the middle of his career; this is a song called “Over The Hills and Far Away”.

[Music]

A few years back, I did a show on 5 of my all-time favorite guitar solos– that was episode number 25 of this podcast, if you want to go back and check it out. One of those solos was by Gary Moore. He had all the flash and technique, but unlike many hot-shot players, especially those shredders from the 80’s, Gary had a fantastic sense of melody. He could play blindingly fast, but he could also move you emotionally with a melodic performance.

Robert William Gary Moore was born April 4th, 1952 in Belfast, Ireland. His father gave him his first guitar when he was 10 years old. Interestingly, Gary was a lefty, but he learned to play the guitar right-handed. In 1968, he joined Skid Row– no, not the metal band with Sebastian Bach; this Skid Row was a bluesy rock band from Ireland, with Phil Lynott (later of Thin Lizzy) on vocals, although Lynott left the band after recording only one single. But this is where Lynott and Moore first worked together.

A few years later, when Eric Bell left Thin Lizzy, Gary joined them, but it only lasted a few months. He did end up recording three tracks with them, though, in 1973. Gary recorded his first solo album, and he continued making solo records all through the 70s, and some of them are really good.

At the same time, he joined the prog rock group Coliseum II, and he would rejoin Thin Lizzy two more times– once as a fill-in guitarist for a tour in 1977, and then as a full-fledged member in 1979. Thin Lizzy’s “Black Rose” album is the only album of theirs where Gary plays on every track, but to many Lizzy fans, they consider that their best album. But it didn’t last long… Gary quit Thin Lizzy for the last time just a few months later.

Gary’s solo albums continued to get better. “Run for Cover”, released in 1985, is a great record– it’s probably my favorite Gary Moore album. Then in 1987, he released the album “Wild Frontier”. Phil Lynott had died the year before, and the album is dedicated to him. Maybe in tribute to Phil, maybe because Gary was just feeling connected to his Irish roots, but some of the tracks on this album have a real Celtic feel to them. It’s an interesting blend of hard rock and traditional elements.

Case in point is this song; but before we get into “Over The Hills and Far Away”, let’s talk about the lyrics.

This song tells the story of a man jailed for a crime he didn’t commit, but he can’t reveal his alibi… because on the night of the crime, he was sleeping with the wife of his best friend. Rather than reveal that secret, he keeps quiet and ends up serving a 10-year sentence for robbery. Now, this is a classic type of folktale, in fact, it’s very reminiscent, maybe even inspired by an old Lefty Frizzell song from 1959 called “Long Black Veil” that song tells a similar story of a man who’s hanged for murder because he wouldn’t admit that he was with his best friend’s wife at the time of the crime. “Long Black Veil” has been covered many times: Johnny Cash recorded it on his classic album “Live at Folsom Prison”. Here’s a bit of his version:

[Music]

My favorite version of “Long Black Veil” is by The Band; it’s on their legendary album “Music From Big Pink”:

[Music]

Here on “Over The Hills and Far Away”, Gary Moore puts his own spin on the story.

“Over The Hills and Far Away” was written by Gary Moore and produced by Peter Collins, who produced albums for Billy Squire, Bon Jovi, Queensryche, Alice Cooper and Rush. Gary plays all the guitars and does all the vocals. Neil Carter handles keyboards and Bob Daisley is on bass. For the drums… well, there’s actually nobody credited with playing drums on the album, and that’s because nobody did play drums on the album. All the drum sounds are programmed; it’s a drum machine. No actual recorded drums on the record at all. It’s a bit unusual for a hard rock record. There are no credits on the album for drum programming either, but it was probably done by Roland Carriage. When Gary went on tour for the album, he brought along Eric Singer on drums.

The song begins with some tribal drumming, and remember, these are all electronic drums:

[Music]

You can hear some of those traditional sounds building under the vocal

[Music]

Then as soon as that vocal line finishes, the song explodes with a Celtic melody.

[Music]

Though there aren’t any specific instruments credited on this track, I believe there are some traditional acoustic instruments in there, along with the keyboards and the guitar. Let’s hear them all together:

[Music]

And that leads us right into the second verse, where Gary’s heavy guitar chords come in:

[Music]

Gary throws in a little bit of classic 80s whammy bar there. Let’s go back and pick up right before that part:

[Music]

Some keyboards are added here.

[Music]

So here’s the first chorus; harmony vocals are added on the first and third lines– that’s a typical technique we hear all the time– and the drums are playing an interesting pattern:

[Music]

And the guitar sound has gotten really big. It’s a pretty simple part actually, the guitar is just playing one chord every two beats, but I’m guessing there are multiple guitar tracks layered on top of each other here to really thicken up the part.

[Music]

I like that little bass part there.

Now, on the second verse, there’s a new keyboard part. Let’s hear that, and listen for the little guitar part that’s added on one phrase, duplicating the keyboard:

[Music]

There’s some really nice guitar work under this part of the verse. I love the way it plays against the keyboard part. Notice the background vocals, too:

[Music]

We’re coming to the bridge, and there’s a definite change in mood. It’s almost wistful… you can picture the prisoner looking out of his cell window, longing for freedom…

[Music]

Those Celtic instruments return, and we’re about to hit a break where those instruments are right in your face in the mix. It’s really powerful.

[Music]

This brings us to the guitar solo.

[Music]

And here’s a classic a capella chorus; you just gotta do it on a song like this.

[Music]

There’s some flanging on the percussion here.

And there’s a key change there; it jumps up a whole step from E to F sharp. Key changes are a classic way to inject some new energy into a song.

[Music]

Let’s check out some of Gary’s vocals here at the end.

[Music]

Gary Cuts loose on guitar a little bit more at the end here for the long fade

[Music]

“Over The Hills and Far Away” – Gary Moore

After this album, he’d record one more record and then walk away from the sound of hard rock and heavy metal. He shifted to playing the blues. In fact, his first all-blues album in 1990 was the best-selling record he ever had, and with a few exceptions, he would focus on the blues for the rest of his career.

In February 2011, Gary died in his sleep from a heart attack; he was only 58. But he left behind over 20 Studio albums, plus all the work he did with other bands and artists. It’s quite the legacy.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. There’s another one coming right up! Let us know about your favorite Gary Moore and Thin Lizzy songs. Share with us on Facebook or on places like Podchaser; you can rate us, write a review, and share the show with your friends. And don’t forget to follow the show, so that you never miss an episode.

We’re part of the Pantheon Media Network of podcasts, and there’s a ton of other great shows waiting for you on Pantheon– check them out!

Always remember to support the music and the artists that you love by buying their music. And thanks for listening to this episode on Gary Moore and “Over The Hills and Far Away”.

Thin Lizzy is known for their hard rockin’ songs and their trailblazing twin guitar sound, but vocalist/bassist/songwriter Phil Lynott had an ear for melody, a way with words, and could write a damn fine pop song when he wanted.  “Dancing In The Moonlight” has everything you want in a great Thin Lizzy song: fantastic guitar playing, wonderful lyrics, and Lynott’s one-of-a-kind voice—he could sound tough as nails, but sensitive & vulnerable, too.  Let’s give this one a spin.

“Dancing In The Moonlight” (Philip Parris Lynott) Copyright 1977 Pippin-The-Friendly-Ranger Music Co Ltd. All rights Controlled and Administered by Universal – Polygram International Publishing, Inc.

— This show is one of many great music-related podcasts on the Pantheon network. You should check them out! And remember to follow this show, so you never miss an episode.

TRANSCRIPT:
Welcome, all you erstwhile geologists and petrologists, this is the show dedicated to the study of a different kind of rock– the Rock that also Rolls.

This is the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, and I’m your host, Brad Page. Thanks for joining us on the Pantheon Podcast Network for another edition of the show where we do some intensive listening to a favorite song to see what it takes to make a song great.

This episode, we’re revisiting one of my favorite bands from the 1970’s, Thin Lizzy and a fantastic, fun song called “Dancing In The Moonlight”.

[Music]

There have been quite a few successful bands to come out of Ireland, but with the exception of US, Thin Lizzy may be the biggest band with the longest lasting impact. The fact that they were a hard rock and band led by a black man, born from a single white mother in a very Catholic country, makes their success even less likely.

In the wake of World War II, Philomena Lynott left Dublin Ireland to find work in Birmingham England. She was still a teenager when she met Cecil Paris from British Guiana. They weren’t together long– just long enough for her to get pregnant. She gave birth to her son. Philip Paris Lynott, on August 20, 1949. When he was four years old, he was sent back to Dublin to live with his grandparents while his mom stayed in England to work. Phil was a teenager when he met a fellow student, a drummer named Brian Downey. The two of them played in bands together and separately, eventually connecting with a guitar player named Eric Bell, and the first version of Thin Lizzy was born in December 1969. The band as a three-piece released three albums, and other than some success with the single “Whiskey In The Jar”, none of the records really sold that well. It was a tough time, and eventually Eric Bell quit the band.

After a few trial runs with other guitarists filling in, including fellow Irishman Gary Moore, the band eventually settled on a four-piece lineup with two lead guitarists. Essentially, they reinvented the whole band. The new lineup included a Scottish teenager named Brian Robertson, and a transplanted Californian named Scott Gorham. And they became a twin guitar powerhouse, both with different but very complementary styles. And their fiery melodic solos and harmony guitar parts would become, along with Phil Lynott’s vocals, the trademark sound of Thin Lizzy.

A couple of albums followed, and though they didn’t stir up much attention, they steadily got better. As the band jelled and the songwriting improved, by the time they released “Jailbreak” in 1976, the band was firing on all cylinders and reached their biggest success yet. That album includes a handful of classic tracks, including the song Thin Lizzy’s best known for– “The Boys Are Back in Town”.

[Music]

But there was trouble brewing.. more drinking, more drugs, and heroin entered the picture. On the eve of a US tour, Phil Lynott was hospitalized with hepatitis, the result of sharing a needle, and the tour had to be canceled. When Lynott was healthy enough, they recorded their next album, called “Johnny The Fox”, and the band lined up another U.S tour. But the self-inflicted damage continued– this time, it was Brian Robertson’s turn to do something stupid. He got involved in a bar fight and ended up on the wrong end of a broken bottle. The jagged glass caused serious lacerations to his hand, and Robertson ended up with nerve and artery damage. The tour had to be canceled again– the second time in two years.

Lynott was angry. He and Robertson always got on each other’s nerves anyway, so Lynott fired Robertson. The band did end up doing a short US tour, opening for Queen, with a temporary guitarist– a familiar name, Gary Moore, filling in. Then the band went back into the studio, this time as a three-piece with all the guitar parts left to Scott Gorham.

Gorham, however, intentionally left some guitar parts unrecorded, so that when Robertson’s hand healed enough for him to play, Gorham convinced Lyontt to bring Roberson back. Lynott agreed, but under one condition: that Robertson would not be a full-time member of the band; instead, he would be a hired gun. And so the album was completed.

Called “Bad Reputation”, the album’s a bit of an odd duck; Robertson is credited on the album, but his picture is not on the cover. However, on the back of the album, there’s a picture of the band with Robertson. Musically, the album is all over the place… it includes some of their heaviest tunes and most complex arrangements, but it also has some of their best softer numbers, and some really catchy tunes. Despite the awkward way that the album came together– or maybe because of it– this is probably my favorite Thin Lizzy studio album.

“Dancing In The Moonlight” is the first song on side two of the original vinyl album. It was written by Phil Lynott; he came up with a bass riff and showed it to Scott Gorham and drummer Brian Downey, and they worked up the arrangement together. The track, and the whole album, was produced by Tony Visconti, who produced a bunch of legendary albums by David Bowie and T-Rex, to name a few. The song begins with Phil Lynott’s bass guitar right up front:

[Music]

The bass has a phasing effect on it, which gives it that swirling sound. It’s not often that you hear any effects on the bass, particularly a phaser, so that makes this unique. Phil is also playing the bass with a pick, and you can hear the sound of each pluck on this part.

Drummer Brian Downey is playing a nice loose swinging beat and they’ve also overdubbed some snapping fingers, just to add to that swingin’ feel.

Let’s listen to it from the beginning again:

[Music]

There’s a nice little break here before the verse:

[Music]

It’s played on a snare drum, the bass, and there’s a guitar chucking away with probably a wah-wah pedal on it. Let’s hear how that leads into the first verse:

[Music]

Scott Gorham plays all of the guitar parts on this track. He’s laid down a couple of guitar tracks here in stereo, a really tasteful part that leaves room for the bass and the vocals to shine through.

[Music]

Let’s talk about the lyrics for a minute.

Phil Lynott was as much of a writer or a poet as he was a hard rocker. He wasn’t above writing a typical rock song, but many of his lyrics are a notch or two above other bands. Here, he’s writing in the character of a teenager; those awkward experiences of teenage romance, and that overwhelming feeling of young love.

Look at the picture that he’s painted here; he meets a girl and they go to the dance, they start dating, he takes her to the movies and tries to look cool, but he’s still a clumsy teenager… that line about getting chocolate stains on his pants, it’s so specific– it’s maybe even a little weird at first– but it is such an image of teenage dorkiness, you can totally picture that kid. I love this whole verse.

[Music]

Here is the chorus, and there’s a new instrument added– a saxophone. Guest-starring on this track is John Helliwell, from the band Supertramp, who adds a great sax part to this song. It really contributes to the jazzy feel of the track.

[Music]

Here comes the second verse, and if you listen closely, you can hear Phil take a deep breath in, before launching into the vocal.

[Music]

Now here’s the bridge section. Our teenage protagonist stayed out too late, he missed the last bus, so he’s stuck walking all the way back home.

[Music]

Our boy knows he’s in trouble when he gets home, so he’s kind of dreading it. And you can feel that in the music– let’s focus on that saxophone part:

[Music]

Listen to the little drum part that Brian Downey plays on the snare rim

[Music]

I love that transition. You can feel the kid shedding his mopiness, saying “the hell with it, it was worth it” and the whole song bursts back with a joyous guitar solo.

[Music]

That is Scott Gorham on lead guitar, and in my opinion, it’s maybe his finest moment on record. I think it’s one of the greatest guitar solos, period. Gorham played it on a Gibson Les Paul; it was either a Les Paul Deluxe or a Les Paul Standard. He initially played a Deluxe, but switched to a Standard around 1978, so I think this was when he was still playing the old Les Paul Deluxe. But this solo is just brilliant. It flows from one part to the next, it builds, and like all my favorite guitar solos, it’s highly melodic, not just a bunch of licks. It’s perfect.

[Music]

Phil starts to cut loose a little bit on the bass here

[Music]

“Dancing In The Moonlight” by Thin Lizzy.

Following the release of the “Bad Reputation” album, the band would hit the road again with Brian Robertson and release a live album called “Live And Dangerous”, which is one of the best live records you’re ever gonna hear.

That would be it for Brian Robertson, though. He left the band for good. His replacement was– you guessed it– Gary Moore. Gary would join the band full-time and contribute significantly to the next album, but then Gary would be gone, too. The band would release a few more albums which are pretty good… I like them, but they don’t capture the full magic of when Brian Robertson or Gary Moore were in the band.

Thin Lizzy called it quits in 1983, and in 1986, Phil Lynott died at the age of 36 from multiple organ failure, as a result of years of drug and alcohol abuse. I remember the day that he died; Gary Moore had released an album a few months before, and Phil sang a couple of tracks on it. That album was on steady rotation on my turntable. I was hoping for so much more from Gary and Phil, but it was not to be. Shame, but we will be talking about Gary Moore on this show very soon…

Thanks for listening and for being part of the show. We’ll be back in two weeks with another new episode. Until then, stop by and visit us on Facebook or on Podchaser, where you can leave a review, a comment, or some feedback. And of course, if you enjoy the podcast, follow the show so that you never miss an episode.

We are proud to be part of the Pantheon Podcast Network, where you’ll find a ton of excellent music podcasts; no matter what kind of music you’re into, you’re guaranteed to find a show on Pantheon that you’ll love.

Now find a date and put on a movie– watch out for those chocolate stains, though– and go “Dancing In The Moonlight” with Thin Lizzy.

[Music]

If you’re looking for a prime example of a hard-working, dues-paying, doggedly dedicated rock band, you won’t find better one than Nazareth. Launching in 1968 and continuing through today, Nazareth rode the wave of success up and down over 50 years, peaking with their classic album Hair Of The Dog in 1975. The last time they hit the charts was with the song “Holiday” in 1980. On this episode, we tap into this classic track. And, with the help of author Robert Lawson, we take a quick tour of the history of Nazareth.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of any of Robert’s books, you’ll find them here:
https://books.friesenpress.com/store/search?q=Robert%20Lawson&match=author

Nazareth – “Holiday” (McCafferty, Cleminson, Charlton, Agnew, Sweet) Copyright 1980 Nazsongs Ltd

TRANSCRIPT:

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present the latest edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. This is the Pantheon Podcast Network, and I’m your host, Brad Page. This is the show where I pick one of my favorite songs and we explore it together to get a better understanding of what makes it a great song.

Now, before we get into this episode, I want to make note of one thing. The first episode of this show aired back in April 2018. Well, here we are in April 2023. So that makes this the fifth anniversary of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. So I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to all of you listening. Some of you have been here since the very beginning. Some of you are new listeners, but you all make this show possible. And we couldn’t have gotten this far without you. So thanks for being a part of the show.

On this episode, we’re visiting with a band that made their mark in the helped define the sound of hard rock, and they continued to produce solid records well into the 2000s. This is Nazareth with a song called “Holiday”.

Now, usually at this point in the show, I give you a short history of the band and work our way up to the song. But author and friend of the show, Robert Lawson, has written a number of books, including “Razama-Snaz! the Listener’s Guide to Nazareth”. So I thought rather than give you the information secondhand, I’d invite Robert onto the show so you can hear it from the expert. So let’s bring Robert into the conversation.

BRAD: So, Robert Lawson, thanks for joining me here on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast to talk a little bit about Nazareth. You’re the guy that wrote the book– you’re the expert. So, tell us a little bit about the history of the band, how Nazareth came to be in the first place.

ROBERT: Well, you’ve got the original four guys from Dunfermline, Scotland, which is a small city in Scotland. And, they’re like a 70’s phenomena, really. So, the first album came out in ‘71 and maybe took them an album or two to get their sound together. By the mid 70’s, they’re just huge. I think it was in ‘77 or ‘78, they did a coast-to-coast Canadian headlining arena tour, which is a big deal back then. So they’re right on that level of Aerosmith and a lot of those kind of arena bands, right? And those are still great, great albums that when people talk about Nazareth, they tend to go back to records like “Hair of the Dog” and “Expect No Mercy”. Those are the classics. But really, during the 70’s, they were really on top of the game. You’ve got, like, five, six, maybe seven albums in a row that are all great, all really strong. I’m in Canada, where they were really big up here– so much so, there’s people up here who think Nazareth were Canadian. And some of those albums were recorded in Canada, so they were a big part of a lot of our lifestyles and lot of radio play in Canada in the ‘70’s.

BRAD: You think that’s maybe the Scottish connection?

ROBERT: That’s part of it for sure. There’s definitely a lot of Scottish history in Canada, a lot of Scottish people live here. I have a Scottish background.  But part of it also is, and I don’t think I got to touch on this in the book actually, but there’s something up here called CanCon. And what that means, for anyone who doesn’t know, is there’s a percentage of Canadian content that must be played on the radio. So, of course that doesn’t mean we don’t play music from the UK and the States and everywhere else, but there’s a certain percentage that has to be Canadian. And that can just be written by Canadian, produced by Canadian. The band doesn’t necessarily have to be Canadian. It could be recorded in Canada. There’s like four different aspects and I think you have to tick off two of them to be considered “Canadian content”. So, Nazareth covered the Joni Mitchell song “This Flight Tonight”, and that was considered Canadian content in a way. So a lot of radio stations would play it, not only because it’s a great song, but it would check off the box for Canadian content for them.

[Music]

ROBERT: They recorded bunch of albums up here and they were just touring here a lot. So Canada really took to them. The guys seemed to really like Canada, they still tour here a lot, . the current lineup.  Canada just always kind of had a relationship with Nazareth and that’s probably how I got into them as a kid in the 70’s.

BRAD: So let’s talk a bit about the 4 guys individually that made up the original lineup of Nazareth.  All from relatively the same area of Scotland, right? In fact, didn’t a couple of them grow up together?

ROBERT: The original four are all from Dunfermline, yes.

BRAD: And so, let’s talk a little bit about the guys. You have, of course, Dan McCafferty on lead vocals– I think one of the most distinctive vocalists in rock history, right?

ROBERT: Absolutely.

BRAD: He kind of was doing Brian Johnson before there was Brian Johnson, if you ask me.

ROBERT: Yeah, absolutely. I used to say for years, when I was younger, that if you listen to, like  “Hair of the Dog”, that that actually sounds like Brian Johnson, way before Brian Johnson was known internationally, for sure.

BRAD: So then you have Manny Charlton on guitar…

ROBERT: I think one of the great underrated guitar players, frankly.

BRAD: Yeah.

BRAD: from that era.

ROBERT: His stuff’s really neat, because when you really start digging into the albums, and really listening, a lot of the songs are a lot more complex from a guitar standpoint than I kind of thought of when I was younger, because he’ll have a couple of rhythm guitars, electric rhythm guitars; he’ll be playing a lead; then he might have a couple of acoustics in the background. And on some of them, he even adds, like, mandolin, and the mandolin and the lead guitar are playing in sync. It’s really just a lot more interesting than I thought. When you’re a kid, you just go “Loud guitars, yeah!”

BRAD: Right.

ROBERT: And then you realize, wow, Manny’s doing like five or six different things on different stringed instruments on some of these songs. It’s great stuff.

BRAD: Yeah. And then the rhythm section.

ROBERT: Pete Agnew on bass, and he does a lot of the backing and harmony vocals, including on the song that we’re going to talk about. So he’s a real big part. And he’s the one,  him and Dan, who met when they were, like, five years old in kindergarten or something like that. They go way, way back.

BRAD: Right.

ROBERT: And then, of course, Darryl Sweet on drums.

BRAD: So tell me if I’m incorrect here, but I believe they formed, or at least the first early versions of the lineup, came together in around 1961 as The Shadettes.

ROBERT: Shadettes, that’s right, yeah. I don’t think all four were in The Shadettes, but, yeah, that sort of evolves into Nazareth by the mid to late 60’s.

BRAD: Manny joins later, I think, in the late 60s, and they kind of cut their teeth doing cover songs, which many bands do. But their ability to take a cover song and make it their own is pretty unique and is a big part of their catalog.

ROBERT: Yes.

BRAD: They landed on the name “Nazareth” from the classic song by The Band. “The Weight”, right?

ROBERT: That’s.– I’ll be a little controversial here: That’s the story that has always been told for years and years. And when I was researching my book, I found another story that was a lot darker, behind how they got that name. And I posted it on Facebook, just saying, “Hey, has anyone ever heard this?” And a whole bunch of people jumped on me saying, “What are you talking about?” and “It’s from The Band” and “Robbie Robertson wrote the song”, and all this, they always say that it’s that story.  Well, you know, if you do a lot of music research, you know that just because a band always says a story, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true, it just means they might come to believe it.

BRAD: Right; you tell the story enough times and it becomes the truth.

ROBERT: Yeah. So, for all intents and purposes, yes… The name came from the song by The Band.

[Music]

BRAD: And their first album, self-titled album, comes out in ‘71.

ROBERT: That’s right.

BRAD: And that record, that was kind of different from what we think of when we think of Nazareth today. I mean, the sound of that record is a little bit different, isn’t it?

ROBERT: Yeah. They’re still kind of finding their way, which for a lot of bands that’s not that uncommon these days, I guess.  For a long time now, you have to have three hits immediately or else you lose your record deal. Back then, bands were signed to development deals where you could actually put out a few singles, and even a couple of albums, while you’re still figuring out who you are. And Nazareth are definitely an example of that. The first album, it’s got some heavy parts, but there’s a little bit of some acoustic stuff and they’re kind of all over the place a bit.

BRAD: Roy Thomas Baker worked on that first record, right?

ROBERT: Yeah.

BRAD: That must be fairly early in his career. He went on to be a legendary producer. I think he was an engineer or something on that record.

ROBERT: Yeah, that’s right.

BRAD: And then they put out a second record called “Exercises” in ‘72 and then “Razamanaz” in ‘73. And that’s kind of the first record that sounds like the Nazareth we all came to know and love.

ROBERT: Yeah, absolutely. And I like those first two records a lot, but some fans think that the career really takes off with “Razamanaz” in ‘73.

BRAD: Yeah, I love that. I love that record.

ROBERT: Oh, sure.

BRAD: And that’s followed up by a couple more records: “Loud and Proud” in ‘73, “Rampant” in ‘74 and then the big one, “Hair of the Dog”, their 6th album, in 1975. And that’s the one that really breaks them worldwide.

[Music]

ROBERT: Yeah, so this is the first one that Manny Charlton produces after, Roger Glover from Deep Purple had done the last few records. And you’re right, ‘75’s “Hair of the Dog”, they really knock it out of the park. Not that the records before that weren’t great– they are, I’m pretty partial to “Loud and Proud” and “Rampant”, but “Hair of the Dog” definitely kicks it up to another level.

BRAD: Yeah, it’s the one that seemed to just catch public attention. That’s followed in ‘76 by “Close Enough for Rock and Roll” and then “Playing The Game”, ‘76, “Expect No Mercy” in ’77…One of the great album covers of all time, I think, right?

ROBERT: Yeah. That’s a ‘70’s album cover right there, right?

BRAD: Yeah. That’s the side of a van.

ROBERT: I was just going to say that, Brad. I think there was a van that had that on it, driving around when I was like ten or eleven years old or something.

[Music]

BRAD: And then, in ‘79, they release a record called “No Mean City”. And that’s kind of a, I don’t know, a shift? But it’s a change in the band, right. Because they have a new member who joins.  That’s their 10th album, and they bring in another second guitarist. Let’s talk about that character.

ROBERT: Right. And “character” is right. So they get Zal Clemenson, who, for people who maybe aren’t familiar, he was a guitar player in a really great Scottish band called the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Real unique group of characters. And Zal, in that band, he was known for performing in complete white makeup and he had these bright green and yellow shiny outfits and platform heels, and he was kind of like an offshoot Kiss guy. But instead of all black and silver, it would be green, and real visual character.

So he dropped all that stuff when he joined Nazareth. But a great, great player. And I think that the addition of Zal to Nazareth is just really important. And I always talk about the fact that there’s some live stuff, which is actually the “Malice” tour, so maybe we should get to that… But if you ever hear any of the live stuff when Zal was in the band, it’s absolute killer. Manny welcomed having a second guitarist; there’s no competition between them at all. Manny, since he’s songwriting and he’s concentrating on producing, he, wanted a little help with the guitar playing, which is very generous. And Zal gets to play a lot. I like the “No Mean City” album a lot. I think it’s a little darker. I mean, the song “May The Sunshine” is one of the ones I was kind of referring to before, that it’s got this mandolin part that’s just really bright, and it’s just a great record.

[Music]

ROBERT: A very kind of iconic album cover with a character that they still use on their merch to this day.

BRAD: And what do you think it was specifically that Zal brought to the band? Besides just being a great player? I mean, do you think there’s a certain element or two that he brought?

ROBERT: I think it was just kind of like a shot in the arm that they needed. Like you said, they had done ten albums or something with a lot of touring as well. When you look at these records, it’s like they’re putting out a record every single year from ‘71 to ‘77 and touring a lot in between. Like I said, they were doing arena tours in Canada. I know they played Cobo Hall, I believe, in ‘78. They were opening a lot of shows with Deep Purple, so a lot of touring, a lot of recording. Then you get TV appearances and radio shows and all kinds of stuff. So I think they just kind of needed a bit of an extra hand. And Zal is someone who was sort of in their orbit already, because there was a Dan McCafferty solo album that Manny produced and Zal plays on that. Sensational Alex Harvey band and Nazareth also shared managers, so they knew of Zal. And because I think Zal is kind of such a zany character, probably just fun to have a fun guy like that in the band, and give them a shot in the arm with his extra energy. Because he is a guy who would run around on stage a lot. He plays really fast, he doesn’t play the same thing twice a lot. So he’s kind of unpredictable. He’s a bit of an unpredictable character like that. I think it was probably just a mix of fun and the extra energy that Zal would bring from being such a character.

BRAD: Yeah. So “No Mean City”, the first record with Zal, comes out in ‘79 and then that’s followed by an album called “Malice in Wonderland” in 1980. And the song we’re going to delve into on the show today is from that album.  That’s their 11th album. It’s pretty amazing when you think about eleven albums, and they would go on to cut a lot more after that. But they were like veterans at this point. I mean, eleven albums, that’s a whole catalog right there.

ROBERT: That’s right. And even when the first album came out in ‘71, they weren’t teenagers either. Some of the guys were already married with kids and stuff. So yeah, at this point they’re real veterans of the business, and life on the road, and life in recording studios and all that kind of stuff. They’re well-seasoned at this point.

BRAD: And the “Malice” album is interesting on a number of fronts.  And I think the impression, I guess, is it’s somewhat controversial among fans, but it’s the first album that’s produced by a real outsider, an American, somebody that fans of the show will know– Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, from Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, actually produced this record.  And it was not recorded in either Canada or Scotland, right?

ROBERT: Compass Point Studios in Barbados. So that’s where everyone goes, you got the beach right outside the studio.

BRAD: You’ve got a very different environment, and you’ve got a very different producer. And I think fan reaction is fairly mixed to this record, right?

ROBERT: Yeah. And I think that’s justified because Skunk Baxter, for all of his credits in the past, he does kind of tame the sound. Manny had done five albums, and those albums, like I said, are like the Roger Glover produced albums. The Manny Charlton produced albums are all great. They’re all a lot of fun, great songs, great production, great vocals, guitar, everything. And then Baxter comes in and he kind of mellows them out a bit. And I kind of consider it the band’s first misstep. Not that it’s a mistake, but I would have liked to have seen Manny Charlton produce this album or even maybe bring Roger Glover back, because I think having a guy as exciting as Zal Clementson on board, and then you kind of neuter him, is counterproductive.

BRAD: It’s definitely a different sound than any ofthe records before. In fact, I think it’s the biggest shift in sound since maybe the first two albums.

ROBERT: Yes, absolutely.

BRAD: But it does contain one, I think, all-time classic Nazareth song, the song “Holiday”, which opens the record. And that’s the one we’re going to dive into today. So, before I get into the track, Robert, tell me your thoughts about the song.

ROBERT: Oh, I love it. It’s probably one of the ones that I really caught onto when I was really young. It’s very, catchy, very upbeat for a band that was doing heavy stuff like “Expect No Mercy” and “Hair the Dog”. It’s kind of poppy, melody wise, anyway. And then you’ve got this great lyric, and Dan’s vocals are terrific, although it’s almost redundant to say that because he’s known as being such a great vocalist. But there’s a line that kind of gets repeated a couple of times, and I’m sure you’re going to talk about this, where at the end of a couple of the choruses he says, “Mama, mama, please, no more husbands”. And I think the second or the third time he says it, he really digs in with a growl and says, “I don’t know who my daddy is”. And that line kills me to this day. It’s such a good line. And the way he delivers it is great.

BRAD: Absolutely. So, let’s get into the track. “Holiday” opens the “Malice in Wonderland” album– Side One, Track One.  It was performed by Dan McCafferty on lead vocal, Manny Charlton and Zal Clementson on guitars, Pete Agnew on bass and backing vocals, and Daryl Sweet on drums. And as we mentioned before, it was produced by Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. All five band members share writing credit on this song; McCafferty, Clementson, Charlton, Agnew and Sweet.

The song begins with a classic bluesy guitar boogie riff. There’s also an organ in the background, I’m guessing that was played by Skunk Baxter. When the band comes in, they add some vintage Chuck Berry style guitar licks.

[Music]

BRAD: This is a fairly restrained vocal from McCafferty. He’s not belting it out or doing a lot of emoting yet.

[Music]

BRAD: Nice work on the backing vocals here. Let’s listen to that.

[Music]

BRAD: That brings us into the chorus, which has a completely different feel than the verses. And this is where the lyrics get really interesting, too. I’ve always pictured this song as being about a spoiled rich kid drinking and partying with his friends. But he’s got some real issues, especially with his mother, as we’ll hear in the choruses. “Mama, mama, please, no more jaguars, I don’t want to be a pop star” …sounds like she’s trying to buy his love, or maybe just keep him out of her way by buying him fancy cars. Let’s hear the first chorus.

[Music]

BRAD: That may be my favorite line in the song: “Mama, mama, please no more facelifts, I just don’t know which one you is.”

[Music]

BRAD: Then this chorus ends with “Mama, please no more husbands”. And then it goes right into the next verse.

[Music]

BRAD: “Wasting my time, hiding out in my rented dream”. Let’s hear more of the vocals on this verse.

[Music]

BRAD: Darryl Sweet plays a nice tom-tom driven beat during this part, so let’s listen to a little of that. There’s also a nice little lyric here. “Ask the chauffeur who he knows; numbers, he’s got lots of those”. I especially like that pause that McCafferty puts in there.

[Music]

BRAD: There’s some nice guitar work behind the vocals there. I like to think of these kinds of parts as guitar orchestration. It’s the kind of things that you could do with strings or horns, but doing them with electric guitars instead. So let’s listen to that.

[Music]

BRAD: There are multiple layered guitar parts during the chorus spread across the stereo field. Let’s hear some of the chorus without the vocals.

[Music]

BRAD: Also a nice little drum fill that takes us out of that chorus.

[Music]

BRAD: That takes us into a tasty little guitar solo by Zal Clemenson.

[Music]

BRAD: “Holiday” by Nazareth. Let’s bring Robert Lawson back in to wrap things up for this episode.

So after the release of Malice in Wonderland again in 1980 and this incredible track, where does Nazareth kind of go from there, Robert?

ROBERT: Well, they did tour the album and there’s a great live recording from the Hammersmith on the “Malice” tour that I always have to give a shout out to. You can listen to the whole thing on YouTube. Some of the tracks were used as B-sides and it’s a great, great live album. I always wish that they would have released it as an official live album, because you really hear the Manny Charlton/Zal Clementson guitar work. It’s a great, great live recording.

But, after that, Zal, leaves the band, so that kind of hurts them in some ways. There’s a couple of lineup changes, they put out a couple of more albums. There’s a live album called “Snaz”, mostly recorded in Vancouver, Canada, which is a really great live album. When I was growing up, it was right up there with Cheap Trick’s “Budokan” and Kiss “Alive” and all the rest of them. Then they put out a few more albums. I think Manny produces a few more, but as you get into the ‘80’s, like a lot of hard rock bands, they have a little bit of a hard time figuring out how they fit in the hair metal and the glam kind of rock scene. And at that point, they just kind of become a club band, and that’s where they’ve been ever since. They’ve still put out some great records. There’s a bunch of later-era albums, when Dan was still in the group, that I think are really strong, but nobody heard them outside of the hardcore fans and that’s really a shame, because they are good albums and they didn’t get as much airplay. And ever since, they either became kind of an opening band for other groups or, like I say, playing much smaller venues.

BRAD: And we’ve lost most of the original members at this point.

ROBERT: Yes.

BRAD: Darryl Sweet, the drummer, was he the first to pass away?

ROBERT: Yes, that’s right.

BRAD: And then, really fairly close together, we lost both, Dan McCafferty and Manny Charlton, within the last year or so.

ROBERT: Yeah, I think both actually in 2022. Manny was like maybe in the spring or earlier in the year, and that was pretty sudden. We weren’t really expecting that. Dan had not been in the greatest health for a few years, which is what prompted him to leave the band.

BRAD: Right.

ROBERT: He just couldn’t tour anymore. He couldn’t really perform more than a couple of songs at a time. So he had to step… you know, he was still out there, and even put out a solo album, but his condition eventually got worse. So his passing wasn’t as shocking, but still pretty sad. I mean, I spent some time with Dan in Dunfermline, Scotland, and just a really great guy and I really enjoyed talking with him about his career and about the book and about everything. So, losing him was pretty painful for me.

BRAD: Yeah… Pete Agnew, the bass player, he’s still alive and kicking and still working today, I think, right?

ROBERT: Yeah. He’s the main guy in Nazareth now. The guitarists that they have and the drummer have both been there for like over 25 or 30 years. So they’re not really the new guys anymore.

BRAD: Right!

ROBERT: And they have Carl Sentance on vocals, who has sung with Don Airey a lot, and he sang with Geezer Butler, and he’s been around. He’s kind of a road dog. He knows what touring is all about, and they’ve done two albums with him now. And they’re not bad albums by any means, but it’s hard not to miss Dan.

BRAD: Sure.

ROBERT: Dan and Pete still lived in Dunfermline their whole lives; Pete still lives there. So even though he’s gone from having gold and platinum albums and touring all over the world, he still lives in the same small city. I think it’s a population of like 60,000 people or something.

And Dan, up until his passing recently, also still lived in Dunfermline. So I think that kept him pretty grounded.

BRAD: Yeah. Well, Robert, thanks for coming on and talking about Nazareth. The name of your book is Razama-Snaz.

ROBERT: That’s right.

BRAD: It is kind of an album-by-album history of the entire career of Nazareth. If you’re a fan or if you just kind of want to explore Nazareth, It’s a great place to begin.

Robert’s also the author of “Still Competition”, which is kind of the same album-by-album look at the legendary Cheap Trick, another band that’s a big favorite here on the podcast. So both of those I recommend. What are you working on next, Robert? What’s coming out?

ROBERT: Well, my third book that came out, I guess a year and a half ago, is about a Canadian group called The Guess Who. And that’s “Wheatfield Empire”. The Guess Who were like Canada’s Beatles up here. Huge group for us. And I’ve been working now for about two years on a book about one of my heroes, Little Steven Van Zandt.

BRAD: Nice.

ROBERT: So he’s got solo stuff, and then of course, you got Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band stuff, and you got Sopranos stuff, and he’s got a radio show, so he’s kind of all over the place. So that’s what I’ve been working on during kind of pandemic and lockdowns and stuff like that. So, I keep plugging away at that, and letting people know about the previous books.

BRAD: Great, well, looking forward to that and thanks again for coming on and talking about Nazareth and this great track. Thanks, Robert.

ROBERT: Anytime, Brad, thank you.

BRAD: And thanks for joining Robert and I for this episode. If you’re interested in Robert’s books on Cheap Trick, the Guess Who or Nazareth, you can find them at the FriesenPress website, that’s FriesenPress.com/store. And then search for Robert Lawson, and you’ll find those books. I really do recommend them.

I will be back in two weeks with another new episode. Until then, you can get caught up on all of our previous episodes on our website, lovethatsongpodcast.com. You can also find us on all of the podcast apps and services– Amazon, Google, Apple, Spotify, iHeartRadio… This podcast is available on all of them.

On behalf of the Pantheon Network, I thank you again for being here for the past five years of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast and I hope you stick around for more.  If you’d like the show to keep going, the best thing you can do is to tell people about the show and share it with your friends.

Thanks for the last five years, and thanks for listening to this episode on “Holiday” by Nazareth.

We celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest live albums of all time, Deep Purple’s Made In Japan. This is a truly live album– no doctored-up, overdubbed fixes here, just a killer band at the top of their game, tearing through a live set with little thought to the recording process. They thought this album would only be released to a limited audience in Japan… turned out to be a huge hit and the ultimate Deep Purple album. This episode, we explore the power of Deep Purple in all their glory with the definitive version of “Highway Star”.

“Highway Star” (Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord, Paice) Copyright 1972 HEC Music, EMI Music Publishing

If you enjoyed this episode, check out these 2 other episodes featuring Deep Purple:
https://lovethatsongpodcast.com/the-albums-that-made-us-with-special-guest-greg-renoff/
https://lovethatsongpodcast.com/deep-purple-burn/

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

TRANSCRIPT:

Hey, it’s Brad Page, back once again with another edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast network. Each episode of this show, I pick one of my favorite songs and we dive into it together, looking for all of those magical moments that make it a great song.

You probably all know by now that Deep Purple is one of my favorite bands. Today we’re talking about the album that made me a Deep Purple fan. In April 1973– 50 years ago this month– Deep Purple released their “Made in Japan” live album, and it became a true classic. So let’s celebrate the 50th anniversary of this great record with a look at one of the standout tracks on the album: “Highway Star”.

We’ve talked about Deep Purple on this show a few times before, and we’ll talk about them again, I’m sure. So I’m not going to go into deep detail on their whole history right here, but here’s a quick overview, just to catch us up to where this album entered the picture in the Deep Purple universe:

Deep Purple was founded around 1968, with the core members being Richie Blackmore on guitar, John Lord on organ and Ian Pace on drums. After recording their first three albums, they fired their original singer and bass player and brought in two new members: In Gillan on vocals and Roger Glover on bass. This became known as the “Mark II” lineup of the band.

 By 1972, this Mark II lineup had recorded four albums together, including the “Machine Head” album. That’s their record that includes “Smoke on the Water”, as well as the original version of “Highway Star”.

“Machine Head” came out in March 1972, and the band hit the road to promote it. And by August of ‘72, they headed to Japan to play three shows.

Now, in my opinion, at this point, 1972, Deep Purple were one of the greatest live bands in history. The band was simply on fire, and they were unbeatable on stage. They had retooled their live set to feature more songs from that recently released “Machine Head” album, which were all songs that just came to life when performed live.

The Warner Brothers office in Japan decided that they wanted to record those three Japanese concerts for a live album that would only be released in Japan. The band kind of reluctantly agreed, but they insisted that their favorite recording engineer and producer, Martin Birch, would come to Japan with them to handle the recording.

The band performed the three shows, and though they knew the gigs were being recorded, they didn’t really think much about it. They were just concentrating on putting on a few really good shows for their Japanese fans. Honestly, they didn’t consider the album to be that important either. They figured it was only going to be released in Japan and not that many people would end up hearing it. In fact, most of the band didn’t even show up to hear the final mix.

But somebody at Warner Bros. must have been smart enough to know what they had, because they ended up releasing the album in the U. K. as well, in December of 1972… and it was a hit. So a few months later, “Made in Japan” was released in the US in April 1973. It reached number six on the Billboard chart, and to this day, it’s almost universally considered one of the greatest live albums of all time. Unlike a lot of live albums, there are no overdubs and no fixes done to this record. It is a true live album, representing the band exactly as they were on stage.

Of the three shows that were recorded, most of the album was taken from the August 16 show in Osaka, Japan. “Highway Star” is one of the tracks taken from that show.

“Highway Star” was the song that they chose to open the show, and it’s the first song on the album. It features Ian Pace on drums, Roger Glover on bass, John Lord on keyboards, Richie Blackmore on guitar, and Ian Gillan on vocals. All five band members share writing credit on the song.

The track begins with the band pretty casually taking the stage and getting their instruments warmed up. John Lord leads us into the song with the organ. Ian Pace begins a build up on his snare drum; Ian Gillan introduces the song. Roger Glover is in on bass, and Richie Blackmore’s guitar is revving the engine. This song is about to take off.

[Music]

Ian Gillan was never happy with his vocals on this album. Apparently, he was just getting over a bout with Bronchitis and he just wasn’t satisfied with his performance. But I always thought he sounds amazing on this album. Let’s see if we can bring up the vocal tracks a little bit in the mix and listen.

[Music]

I’ve always loved the interplay between Ritchie’s guitar and John Lord’s keyboards. The way they create this massive sound that’s just greater than the sum of their parts. Let’s hear their parts here. Simple but effective. Richie’s guitar is panned to the left, john is on the right.

[Music]

Love Richie’s guitar at the end there, he’s just wrenching the whammy bar on his Fender Stratocaster.

[Music]

Let’s bring up the vocals again.

[Music]

That is a vintage Ian Gillen vocal right there. And there’s a great drum fill by Ian Pace that leads us out of that chorus.

And that leads us into an organ solo by the great John Lord. There’s a fantastic little instrumental riff here that leads us into the next verse.

[Music]

And let’s focus a little bit on what the bass and the drums are doing.

[Music]

Now it’s time for Richie Blackmore’s guitar solo. And remember, this is recorded live; there’s no overdubs, no punch ins, no fixes. Not every note here is perfect. If you want to hear perfection, go listen to the studio version of this song, which is iconic. But here, you get a performance that is a go-for-broke, knock the audience right out of their seat performance. Richie is on fire here.

[Music]

Once again, Richie is just yanking the hell out of his Annie bar.

[Music]

Here’s the last verse.

[Music]

Listen to Richie, his guitar on the left, and to Roger Glover’s bass, too.

Deep Purple – “Highway Star” from “Made In Japan”, released in the US. 50 years ago this month.

I think for every music fan, there are specific albums you remember hearing for the first time, like watershed moments. This was the album that showed me the power of a live performance, how intense music can be when performed by five musicians at the top of their game.

John Lord passed away in July 2012. One of the most important keyboard players in the history of rock and pop music. I don’t think he often gets the credit that he’s due.

Richie Blackmore, one of the most important guitar players of all time, pretty much walked away from rock and roll around 1997 and formed Blackmore’s Night with vocalist Candace Knight, playing sort of a contemporary version of medieval in Renaissance music.

But Ian Gillan, Ian Pace and Roger Glover still play in a version of Deep Purple today.

Thanks for joining me for this tribute to one of my all-time favorite albums. If you enjoyed this show, there’s plenty more like it. You can find all of our previous shows on our website, lovethatsongpodcast.com, or just search for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on Amazon, Google, Apple Podcasts. Spotify… anywhere that you can find podcasts.

This show is part of the Pantheon Network of podcasts, home to many other great music related shows, so be sure to check them out.

If you’d like to comment or leave a review of this show, Podchaser is the best place to do it.  And of course, you can keep in touch with us on our Facebook page. If you’d like to support the show, the best way to do it is to just tell people about it and share it with your friends.

I’ll be back in about two weeks with another new episode. Until then, go get a copy of “Made in Japan” and crank up “Highway Star” by Deep Purple.