Ok, so there are intros and then they’re are great intros. What qualifies as great in my books? In this week’s playlist some songs feature opening segments that are totally independent from the rest of the track. Others just start with the main riff. Our opening song, INTRO/SWEET JANE is from Lou Reed’s live album Rock n Roll Animal, released in 1974, and it’s a terrific example of a great intro. The opening jam from guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner creates an air of anticipation for what is still to come. The quality of this video clip isn’t great but I had to include it because any chance to see Lou and the band performing in 1974 is worth the annoyance.
The Breeders, (what a brilliant name for an almost all girl band), was formed in 1988 by Kim Deal of The Pixies and Tanya Donnelly of Throwing Muses. Their most successful album Last Splash produced the hit single CANNONBALL and the outstanding part of that song’s intro is the bass line, performed by Josephine Wiggs. The music video was directed by Kim Gordon and Spike Jonze and its a doozy:
The opening salutation on Stevie Wonder’s SIR DUKE is not an introduction that blends into the song; those actual chords are never repeated. It’s a tribute to Duke Ellington and so the intro sets the tone for the piece as a whole, foreshadowing the looser, jazzier solos later in the song.
On Isaac Hayes’ brilliant funk version of the Dionne Warwick classic WALK ON BY the intro becomes a song within a song. On this clip Isaac performs live at Music Scene in 1969. OMG: Sex on a stick. But, about those girls dresses…..
The song ONE STEP BEYOND is from the Madness album of the same name. It was originally written and recorded by the Jamaican ska musician Prince Buster. The spoken line, “Don’t watch that, watch this” in the intro is from another Prince Buster song The Scorcher. Here they are at Glastonbury 2007 showing why they have such a great reputation for live performance:
One of the most recognisable intros in rock history is HOTEL CALIFORNIA from The Eagles. But when it comes to intros that get your attention and then drag you in, kicking and screaming, it has to be rock legends Led Zeppelin. IMMIGRANT SONG is famous for Robert Plant’s distinctive wailing cry at the beginning and the recurring staccato riff from Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and, (sigh), John Bonham.
The Rolling Stones’ GIMME SHELTER starts rather timidly, with Keith Richards’ set of wavering chords, but it soon builds into a crescendo dominated by the lead guitar line. Here they are performing live in Amsterdam, 1995 with Lisa Fisher on back-up. Watch until the end and get a little bonus from Charlie Watts.
SMOKE ON THE WATER from Deep Purple is known for Ritchie Blackmore’s instantly recognisable opening riff. The lyrics of the song tell a true story: on 4 December 1971 Deep Purple had set up camp in Montreux Switzerland to record an album using a mobile recording studio at the entertainment complex that was part of the Montreux Casino. On the eve of the recording session a Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention concert was held in the casino’s theatre. In the middle of Don Preston’s synthesizer solo on “King Kong”, the place suddenly caught fire when somebody in the audience fired a flare gun into the rattan covered ceiling. The resulting fire destroyed the entire casino complex, along with all the Mothers’ equipment. The “smoke on the water” that became the title of the song referred to the smoke from the fire spreading over Lake Geneva from the burning casino as the members of Deep Purple watched the fire from their hotel across the lake.
It was difficult to pick from AC/DC’s repertoire of great introductions but I went with my all-time favourite, THUNDERSTRUCK. Angus Young gets the crowd going during this intro at Donnington 1991:
Derek & The Dominoes’ LAYLA has got to be one of rock’s definitive love songs. The introduction contains an overdub-heavy guitar solo, a duet of sorts between Duane Allman’s slide guitar and Eric Clapton’s bent notes.
A couple of controversial tracks followed, both with unique introductions. FIRESTARTER, by UK band The Prodigy, caught attention because the song was deemed, by some, to be violent. The video clip, directed by Walter Stern, further fueled these claims. Shot in stark black and white, in an used part of the London Underground, some television stations refused to air the clip. Which just makes me want to show it to you, even more! I think its brilliant.
The Prodigy are a hard act to follow but I think we succeeded with the compelling and dark Massive Attack track INTERTIA CREEPS. It’s from their excellent album Mezzanine.
When The Temptations’ PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE was released in 1972 it was 12 minutes long! Thankfully there is a shorter version that’s suitable for radio that keeps that amazing intro intact. It begins with an extended instrumental starting with a solo plucked bass guitar, backed by hi-hat cymbals. Other instruments including a blues guitar, wah-wah guitar, Wurlitzer Electric Piano, handclaps, horns and strings gradually join in.
In 1974 David Bowie became obsessed with soul music and it resulted in the album YOUNG AMERICANS, which he created with the help of the great soul singer Luther Vandross. Here’s the Thin White Duke on the Dick Cavett Show in 1974 with, amongst others, Vandross singing back-up! Loving the shoulder pads.
The Beatles track I FEEL FINE was the first recorded song to feature guitar feedback. The story goes that, while recording, John Lennon accidentally left his guitar too close to his amp, producing the interesting whine that’s in tune with the riff’s opening note.
As an intro to our Gig Guide, I couldn’t resist playing some of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I PUT A SPELL ON YOU. The demented opening and the cabaret style act, together with a cigarette smoking skull called ‘Henry’, laid the foundation for future ‘shock rock’ performers like Dr. John.
Another iconic opener belongs to the The Small Faces tune TIN SOLDIER. Here’s some rare coverage of the band with P.P.Arnold on Belgium TV in 1968. Go the Mods!
Quentin, from BayFM’s ‘Q’s Blues & Jazz’ suggested I do a show on Roads and Streets but I’d already done that quite a while ago. (I know, even I can’t remember what themes I’ve covered most of the time!). But she planted a seed that led me to Gerry Rafferty BAKER STREET and that consequently led to this week’s theme. So thank you Q! BAKER STREET has a stand-out opening with its prominent eight-bar saxophone hook, played by Raphael Ravenscroft.
As we headed for the close of the show, my favourite rock groups came to the fore. Pink Floyd’s MONEY had to be included for its distinctive opening of an impressive bass line and its seven-beat loop of money related sound effects.
While the Beatles may have been the first band to use feedback on a recording, the incredible Jimi Hendrix perfected the art. Again, which track to choose? FOXY LADY has always been a favourite and it does feature that almost excrutiating feedback at the beginning.
Our final track had me pushing up the sound and dancing out of the studio. Led Zeppelin seem to specialise in fantastic opening segments. A track that I absolutely adore is KASHMIR.
Next week we’ll be previewing the Mullumbimby Music Festival. Lots of great music and, I hope, an interview or two. Should be fun.
Here’s the complete playlist from this week’s show on Great Introductions:
Intro / Sweet Jane – Rock And Roll Animal, Lou Reed
Cannonball – Last Splash, The Breeders
Sir Duke – Songs In The Key Of Life [Disc 1], Stevie Wonder
Walk On By – Dead Presidents, Isaac Hayes
One Step Beyond – Total Madness: The Very Best Of Madness Madness
Hotel California – Hotel California, The Eagles
Immigrant Song – Rock 3, Led Zeppelin
Gimme Shelter – Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 2], The Rolling Stones
Wipe Out – The Perfect Wave, The Surfaris
Smoke On The Water – Machine Head, Deep Purple
Thunderstruck – Razor’s Edge, AC/DC
Layla – Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, Derek and The Dominos
Firestarter – Fat of the Land, The Prodigy
Inertia Creeps – Mezzanine, Massive Attack
Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone – Motown: The Classic Years [Disc 2], The Temptations
Young Americans – Young Americans [Bonus Tracks], David Bowie
I Put A Spell On You – Replay/Gold – Vol 1 No 5, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
I Feel Fine – Beatles 1, The Beatles
Tin Soldier – The Best Sixties Album In The World Ever III-[Disc 2], The Small Faces
Baker Street – City To City, Gerry Rafferty
Money – Pink Floyd, Pink Floyd
Foxy Lady – Experience Hendrix: The Best Of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix
Kashmir – Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin
Next week: MULLUMBIMBY MUSIC FESTIVAL PREVIEW
Our theme this week was about a place that’s linked to money, sunshine, fame and freedom. It sounds a lot like my home town of Byron Bay, but no, this week’s program was about the equally tantalising American state of CALIFORNIA.
We started with Al Jolson’s CALIFORNIA HERE I COME. Written for the 1921 Broadway musical Bombo, it’s often called the unofficial state song of California. Another standard is the Mamas & The Papas’ love song to their home state: CALIFORNIA DREAMING. Bobby Womack’s version is, in my opinion, just sublime. Here’s some original footage and images of California in the 50’s, set against his music:
Chuck Berry wrote THE PROMISED LAND while in jail and, apparently, he used the prison library to plot his hero’s trip from Virginia to Los Angeles.
Train is a band that comes from San Francisco so their song, SAVE ME SAN FRANCISCO, is, we assume, straight from the heart. And like a lot of the tunes in today’s list, it’s really about missing someone you’ve left behind. The songs is from the album of the same name, released in 2009.
Led Zeppelin’s GOING TO CALIFORNIA is reportedly about Joni Mitchell. The story goes that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were both infatuated with her at the time. They were all in their early 20’s and it was crazy days for all and sundry. Here’s Led Zepp. playing live at Earls Court in 1975:
Arlo Guthrie contributed a song that’s based on him going through LA airport with a couple of joints in his pocket. Not that I condone that kind of behaviour, of course (!) He performed COMING INTO LOS ANGELES live at Woodstock in 1969 where, it appears, it went down a treat:
Yes, Arlo Guthrie just wants to have some fun. I don’t think he’s the only one. Sheryl Crowe is in a similar state of mind on ALL I WANNA DO.
The Rivieras are also out there havin’ fun on CALIFORNIA SUN, a hit for them in 1964. Albert Hammond’s IT NEVER RAINS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA also reminds me of Byron Bay. Must be the sub-tropical thing. Does this ring a bell? “It Doesn’t Rain in California but girl don’t they warn ya, it pours, it pours.” Sounds like Byron to me.
We followed with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The title of CALIFORNICATION was borrowed for the title of one of my favourite television shows.
Two of the best voices ever belong to Dionne Warwick and Roy Orbison. Warwick sings of being a deflated Hollywood hopeful heading home, on DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE? Orbison, who can’t wait to get back to where his lover is – and therefore where the sun always shines – is brilliant on CALIFORNIA BLUE. It’s from his comeback album, Mystery Girl, recorded just before he died in 1988.
I bet you were wondering how long it would take me to play HOTEL CALIFORNIA by The Eagles? Only an hour! Yes how could I not play this song on a show dedicated to songs about California?
Latest media favourite, pop-singer Kate Perry, gets a little bit of help from Snoop Dogg on CALIFORNIA GURLS. Can you believe that this video clip has racked up nearly 50 million hits? Sweet.
Unbelievably, I found a slice of hip-hop I could use with no swear words in it! 2PAC and Dr Dre are almost subdued on CALIFORNIA LOVE. We followed with some Thin Lizzy who know how hard it is to make it in HOLLYWOOD (When you’re down on your luck).
The Sir Douglas Quintet’s MENDOCINO is also a classic. It’s a song about a county in the north of California, renowned for distinctive Pacific Ocean coastline, old growth forests, wine production and liberal views on cannabis. Sounds like it should be Byron Shire’s sister state, doesn’t it?
Everclear do a song about my favourite part of Los Angeles, SANTA MONICA. It’s a place, also not unlike Byron, with a great beach, fantastic restaurants, farmers markets and a laid-back feel to it. The song was written by the band’s lead singer Art Alexakis and its actually quite a melancholy tune about suicide.
When Otis Redding sang about SITTIN’ ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY, it was the very groovy city of San Francisco he was referring to. We followed that with a piece of music that pays homage to the Mexican population of California: The brilliant Chicano rock band Thee Midniters with WHITTIER BOULEVARD.
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers seem to be obsessed with California as they have recorded quite a few tracks about the area. Our second Peppers track was DANI CALIFORNIA which we followed with a number by Tom Petty. FREE FALLING references areas of Los Angeles, from the San Fernando Valley to Ventura Boulevard and Mulholland Drive, all of which conjure up various movies out of Hollywood. Petty has been qouted as saying that the multitude of acoustic guitars on the track were used to create a dreamlke quality.
Now if you really want dreamy, then you can’t go past the epitome of Californian folk/rock, Joni Mitchell, with CALIFORNIA. You can sort of see what those bad boys from Crosby, Stills & Nash and Led Zeppelin saw in her, can’t you?
The song we had to have,of course, was CALIFORNIA GIRLS.When you think of California, you can’t help but think of surfing and, of course, The Beach Boys. They recorded the song in 1965 and it maintains its popularity today, simply because it sums up everything that is great about the beach lifestyle.
Even Kings of Leon do a song about this sunny state. However, CALIFORNIA WAITING doesn’t sound like too much fun somehow. Here they are performing on the Jonathan Ross show:
We finished the show with LA WOMAN, from the last studio album recorded by The Doors before Jim Morrison’s death in July 1971. It’s arguably the most blues/rock oriented tracks that the band recorded.
Now if you would like to contribute to next week’s show, and I hope you do, then the topic will be one that’s close to my heart: SHOPPING. Drop me a line if you have a suggestion or a request.
And as the governor of California would say….. I’LL BE BACK.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
California Here I Come – Al Jolson
California Dreaming – The Very Best of Bobby Womack, Bobby Womack
The Promised Land – Chuck Berry Greatest Hits, Chuck Berry
Save Me San Francisco – Save Me San Francisco, Train
Going to California – Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin
Coming into Los Angeles – Woodstock 1969, Arlo Guthrie
All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow
California Sun – The Rivieras
It Never Rains In Southern California – Albert Hammond
Californication – Californication, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Do You Know the Way to San Jose – Her All Time Greatest Hits, Dionne Warwick
California Blue – Mystery Girl, Roy Orbison
Hotel California – Hotel California, Eagles
California Gurls – California Gurls, Kate Perry ft. Snoop Dogg
California Love – All Eyez On Me, 2pac ft. Dr.Dre
Hollywood (Down On Your Luck) – Renegade, Thin Lizzy
Mendocino – Sir Douglas Quintet
California – Orange County Soundtrack, Phantom Planet
Santa Monica – Everclear
Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
Whittier Blvd. – Latin Oldies, Thee Midniters
Dani California – Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Free Falling – Tom Petty
California – Joni Mitchell, Joni Mitchell
California Girls – Made in U.S.A., The Beach Boys
California Waiting – Holy Roller Novocaine, Kings of Leon
LA Woman – Legacy: The Absolute Best, The Doors