Music Labyrinth Episode 053
Wallflower / Peter Gabriel
Hello Listener, and welcome to episode number 53 of The Music Labyrinth. Now 53, of course, is the number of (and I’m quoting here) the fictional sentient anthropomorphic 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, a character that is featured in several Walt Disney motion pictures starting with the 1968 feature film The Love Bug. Go Herbie! 53 is also the number of years that the Grinch says he has put up with the Who’s Christmases. And, in the magnificent tales that comprise the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, a book mentioned in the text is called 53 More Things To Do In Zero Gravity. And - in a possible segue towards the next episode of The Music Labyrinth, the fictional 53rd Precinct in The Bronx was the setting for the TV comedy Car 54, Where Are You? So - lots to look forward to, but first we have to get there! And just before we kick off, I should remind any new listeners to the program that what we are about to do is find some link between our first song and the next, and so on through the labyrinth. We commenced this particular episode of The Music Labyrinth with the beautiful Peter Gabriel song Wallflower, which comes from Peter Gabriel’s 4th solo album, but also was written for the soundtrack of the 1984 Alan Parker film, Birdy. That film starred Matthew Modine who, one year later, starred in the coming-of-age film Vision Quest. Vision Quest is notable for the first appearance of Madonna in a motion picture and, in addition to Madonna’s Crazy For You, the soundtrack of Vision Quest also featured this song by the Canadian Band, Red Rider. This is Lunatic Fringe.
Lunatic Fringe / Red Rider
From their 1981 album As Far As Siam, that was the Canadian band, Red Rider, with their song, Lunatic Fringe. And, if you think you recognised the voice of the lead singer of Red Rider, you were right! It was this bloke.
Life Is A Highway / Tom Cochrane
Welcome back to The Music Labyrinth were we last listened to Tom Cochrane’s 1991 worldwide hit single Life Is A Highway. That song sold a gazillion units all across the world and reached top ten status in at least 5 countries. It was also covered by the country band Rascal Flats, who’s version of Life Is A Highway was included in the soundtrack of the 2006 animated film, Cars. Another song included in the Cars soundtrack, and arguably the mother of all rock highways, is this one.
Route 66 / Chuck Berry
On The Music Labyrinth that was Chuck Berry with Route 66. The song was actually written in 1946 by Bobby Troup and first recorded by Nat King Cole. The version we just heard by Chuck Berry was recorded in 1961. Now, I have never visited the United States and (obviously) not driven the highway, however the ever-wonderful internet offers mugs like me all sorts of information about the drive along the route - including a list of attractions that I would be likely to encounter on the way. And one of those, situated at Amarillo, Texas, is the Cadillac Ranch, which inspired Bruce Springsteen to write this song in 1980.
Cadillac Ranch / Bruce Springsteen
From his groundbreaking 1980 double album The River, that was Bruce Springsteen with Cadillac Ranch. If you were listening carefully to Cadillac Ranch (and who wasn’t? Come on - raise your hands) you will have noticed the reference at the beginning of the third verse to James Dean in his Mercury ‘49. There are a surprising number of references to the iconic American film star James Dean in the lyrics of popular music, but the one that sticks in my brain is from this 1973 hit for David Essex. This is Rock On.
Rock On / David Essex
This is The Music Labyrinth where we just dipped our toes in the Glam Rock scene of 1973 with David Essex’s Rock On. The distinctive bass on that track was played by Herbie Flowers who has a long and impressive CV having been a member of Blue Mink, T Rex and Sky, as well as a highly utilised session musician. However, he is perhaps best remembered, and alway will be, for this distinctive bass riff.
Walk On The Wild Side / Lou Reed
Of course that was Lou Reed with Walk On The Wild Side, his 1972 single from the album Transformer. When released as a double A sided single, Walk On The Wild Side carried this next song as its partner. It has arguably become just as recognised as a Lou Reed classic. This is Perfect Day, performed in this version by Kirsty MacColl and Evan Dando.
Perfect Day / Kirsty MacColl & Evan
From Kirsty MacColl’s 1995 album Galore, that is her duet with Evan Dando of The Lemonheads with their cover of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day. Before Kirsty MacColl died too young in a ski-boat collision in the year 2000, she left a legacy of some interesting recordings. Of course, she is famous for her participation in The Pogues Fairytale of New York, but lets save that one for Christmas. Instead, this is fun. Here is Kirsty MacColl with In These Shoes?
In These Shoes? / Kirsty MacColl
Welcome back to The Music Labyrinth where we just heard Kirsty MacColl with In These Shoes. That track relied VERY heavily on a sample from this 1965 recording but Willie Bobo, an American Latin-jazz percussionist. This is Spanish Grease.
Spanish Grease / Willie Bobo
From his 1965 album Spanish Grease, that was Willie Bobo with the title track. You cannot fail to have picked up on the similarity between that tune and the previous track, In These Shoes? In 1971, for his album Santana III, Carlos Santana was slightly more subtle that Kirsty MacColl when he sampled Spanish Grease for the song No One To Depend On. Nevertheless, I think you can still hear Willie Bobo in this track by Santana.
No One To Depend On / Santana
Here we are in The Music Labyrinth were we last heard Santana with No One To Depend On, from their 1971 album, Santana III. Carlos Santana has a long pedigree in the music industry, performing and recording original material and cover versions and collaborating with a large variety of other artists. In 1989 he teamed up with the then 77 year old John Lee Hooker on John Lee Hooker’s album The Healer. This is the title track from that album.
The Healer / John Lee Hooker (feat. Carlos Santana)
Gee, that’s a cruisy track! That was John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana with The Healer, from John Lee Hooker’s 1989 album of the same name. That album featured collaborations with several artists, one of whom was Bonnie Raitt - who’s vocals on this next track (in my somewhat-less-than humble opinion) put the great bluesman in the shade! This is I’m In The Mood.
I’m In The Mood / John Lee Hooker (feat. Bonnie Raitt)
From 1989, that was John Lee Hooker and Bonnie Raitt with I’m In The Mood. Bonnie Raitt is an extraordinary artist who can move effortlessly between eras and genres. And, by way of modest example, here she is in a duet from 2006 with the American R&B singer/songwriter India Arie. This is I Choose.
I Choose / India.Arie (feat. Bonnie Raitt)
Welcome back to The Music Labyrinth. We last listened to India Arie and Bonnie Raitt with I Choose, from India Arie’s 2006 album Testimony: Vol 1 Life & Relationship. I’m a little ashamed to admit that the work of India Arie had not made it onto my radar until this week - despite the fact that she has won 4 Grammy Awards from 23 nominations. Now, in one of those labyrinthine feedback loops that we occasionally find ourselves in, our attention on India Arie has brought us straight back to our old mate Carlos Santana. In 2010, Santana released their 21st studio album, Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time. On that album, India Arie appeared as a guest vocalist on this next track. This song will be familiar to you, but you will notice some beautiful cello which brings an extra dimension to it. I’ll tell you more about that shortly.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps / Santana & Yo-Yo Ma (feat. India.Arie)
That, of course, was While My Guitar Gently Weeps, performed by Santana and featuring the vocals of India Arie and the cello of Yo-Yo Ma. Yo-Yo Ma is a classically trained virtuoso of the cello. He has been appointed as a United Nations Peace Ambassador, and also to serve on the US President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities. In addition to a vast repertoire of classical recordings, Yo-Yo Ma has also collaborated with pop, rock and fold artists. Here he is with James Taylor, Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connell with Hard Times Come Again No More.
Hard Times Come Again No More / James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer & Mark O’Connor
This is The Music Labyrinth where we last listened to Hard Times Come Again No More. That song comes from the year 2000 album Appalachian Journey by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connell. That particular track featured the distinctive vocals of James Taylor. Lets stay with James Taylor and have a listen to one of his best known songs - although not his version of it. I’ll tell you about the artist shortly. This is Fire and Rain.
Fire and Rain / Babyface
From his 2007 album Playlist, that is the US record producer, singer, songwriter Kenneth Brian Edmonds, who records and performs as Babyface. He has produced 26 number one R&B hits in his career and won 12 Grammy Awards. He also produced this song for Eric Clapton.
Change The World / Eric Clapton
From the soundtrack of the 1996 film Phenomenon that was Eric Clapton with Change The World. That song was written by Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick. Gordon Kennedy is a musician and songwriter who was one of the musicians who recorded the songs performed by the fictional group Stillwater in the Cameron Crowe movie Almost Famous. So, here are Stillwater, with Fever Dog.
Fever Dog / Stillwater
Welcome back to the part of The Music Labyrinth were we find fictional music and particularly the fictional music of the made up band Stillwater, from the Almost Famous movie and soundtrack. The song we last listened to was Fever Dog. Vocals for Stillwater were sung by Marti Frederiksen, who has had a varied career as a musician and record producer. For a period in the mid-1990s he worked closely with Aerosmith, writing songs for four Aerosmith albums and producing music for the band and for Steve Tyler’s side projects. Frederiksen co-wrote and produced this song from Aerosmith’s 12th studio album, Nine Lives. This is Attitude Adjustment.
Attitude Adjustment / Aerosmith
On The Music Labyrinth, that was Aerosmith with Attitude Adjustment. In 2007, Aerosmith and Marti Frederiksen produced a recording of John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance for the compilation album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign To Save Dafur. That same project, aimed at alleviating the crisis in Dafur, also featured Green Day and their version of this John Lennon classic.
Working Class Hero / Green Day
That was Green Day, covering the John Lennon song Working Class Hero, which originally appeared on the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album of 1970. The version we just heard by Green Day was recorded for the compilation album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign To Save Dafur. And that about brings us to the end of episode 53 of The Music Labyrinth. Thanks very much for your company. I hope you’ve enjoyed the last couple of hours of meandering through the labyrinth, and that you can find your way to join us again in a fortnight when we will set off on a pathway determined by this next track. By most measures, Green Day are an extraordinarily successful band. They have sold an estimated 75 million records worldwide, which makes them one of the best selling artists of all time. That level of achievement might indicate why their concept album American Idiot has been cast into a Broadway musical. So, to end this episode, lets go with Green Day and the Original Broadway Cast of that show, with the title song. This is American Idiot.
American Idiot / Green Day and the Original Broadway Cast