Spot the Riff!

Here’s a good old ‘Northern Soul’ track from Don Covay and the Goodtimers, with a riff that was shamelessly stolen by a New Wave popster bass player … no prizes for guessing who … or for what song.

 

Posted in Music | 192 Comments

192 Responses to Spot the Riff!

  1. Mike Miller says:

    I was trying to think of a musical group that didn’t end badly in some way. Big time or small, doesn’t seem to matter.
    Apparently, just the nature of the beast.

  2. Jerry Cohen says:

    Per KOA: I was really pissed off by T-Bone’s comment at the time that “it wouldn’t have been fair to The Attractions” to use them more on that album. I thought it was rather condescending because that band certainly never had trouble playing any genre of music (to my ears). The proof is in the pudding: Suit Of Lights is the best-sounding thing on the record. I prefer that to hearing EC drunkenly scream his way through Eisenhower Blues any day.

    • Jerry Cohen says:

      Regarding a different EC “solo” album: I read that Elvis initially wanted Mighty Like A Rose to feature the reunited Attractions. Obviously it didn’t come off. Can you shed any light on what happened? How did you feel about the tune How To Be Dumb, which seemed possibly directed at you?

      • Bruce says:

        I can shed light but its a longer story, and I’ll tell it one day, or not. But in the meantime, what a brilliant bit of word-play is “How to Be Dumb”! Do you see it has a double meaning? 1) Do you know how to be stupid? and, 2) Do you know how to keep quiet? Absolutely stunning, I’m sure you’ll agree. For my part, I always referred to the album as “Mighty Lack Arose”.

  3. BorisBrain says:

    Hey Bruce, hope all is well.

    What light can you shed on the Attractions’ involvement (or lack of it) on the King of America album? Whilst I do like a couple of the songs on that album, I was disappointed to not hear more of the band, and Mr C has referenced some less than successful sessions in his various liner notes. Anything you can elaborate on?

    Best,

    BB

    • Bruce says:

      The concept for KoA was dreamt up by Elvis and T-Bone Burnett, on their long flights travelling the world on a joint solo tour. The idea was to have two bands present at the recordings, kept in splendid isolation from each other, to be used as and when required. The alternative musicians would be some of those I’d once seen backing the original Elvis in Las Vegas — with the addition of Mitchell Froom on keyboards and a few other LA session men. The Attractions would no longer be the first team but part of a squad-rotation system. Anyone familiar with the dynamic of soccerball teams will know that when capable players are put on the subs’ bench, simply because they’ve fallen out of favour, a lot of tension and resentment builds up very quickly.

      Ocean Way recording studios in LA had been booked where T-Bone had the novel idea that we might engage with the creative process better if we knew what the songs were about! A small room was set aside where we could study a lyric sheet prior to recording a song, while Elvis would explain its meaning to us.
      I scanned the opening lines of the song we had lined up, read them aloud, and glanced up at Pete, who raised his eyebrows Roger Moore style.
      ‘When England was the whore of the world, Margaret was her madam.’
      ‘Wos that about then?’ I said. It could hardly have been more obvious.
      Elvis gritted his teeth.
      Pete smirked and raised his eyebrows again.
      T-Bone was oblivious, as were the rest of the US contingnet, with the notable exception of Mitchell Froom who chuckled at the dark humour of the situation.
      It was at a time when Elvis couldn’t yet bring himself to totally reject/move on from the Attractions, so he simply left us all sitting in an expensive hotel for three weeks and we ended up on one track.

      • BorisBrain says:

        Thanks Bruce – must have been one heck of a room service bill…

        Is it also true that the band was sidelined at the last minute for Live Aid? I was really looking forward to that at the time. What had been on the set list?

        Stay groovy,

        BB

      • Bruce says:

        I think we’d been sidelined for a while by then, though it still came as a disappointment. Still, the only band that anyone remembers now is Queen, who pretty much wiped the floor with everyone else.

  4. Mike Miller says:

    I was at one of my rental properties today ( part of my vast empire) and it turns out my tenant is quite the cycling enthusiast.

    http://westendstudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/photo-1-4.jpg

  5. Bruce, what do you remember about Mad About The Wrong Boy? I picked up a copy a few years ago and found it a great listen, it’s quite interesting to hear the band without The Singer’s tones all over every song. Is that you playing six-string guitar on it? Was The Singer supportive of The Attraction’s efforts?

    • Bruce says:

      I’m afraid it’s not my guitar playing. That is Tim Renwick with whom I played in one of my earlier bands, Quiver. If you don’t know, Tim went on to play with the likes of Pink Floyd and Eric Clapton and was the uber-session guitar player of the era. I’m not at all keen on “backing bands” doing solo albums — with the honourable exception to the rule of that Band who backed Bob Dylan. I think EC was quite supportive of the project because it sidleined us at a time he was developing his burgeoning producing career — and made us sound less than we were, somewhat lightweight and kitsch — and, of course, served to seperate “the band” from him. He probably didn’t think that at all, to be fair — but I certainly did.

    • David Witherington says:

      Hi, Bruce. I remember that the few 1980 reviews that I stumbled across at the time were mixed but generally favorable. To me personally, I had mixed feelings at the time. When i first heard about the LP prior to its release, I was floored in a bad way…”are Elvis Costello and the Attractions breaking up?” Being the fan boy that I am, I was still riding the high of those classic first albums. While “My Aim is True” is an impeccable debut for EC, it was “This Year’s Model” that not only introduced the fans to the mighty Attractions, but also introduced EC himself to the band that will always be his “bad ass heartbeat” (thanks, Pete, for that line…hehe). Do you remember when and how the idea for an Attractions album came to be?…was it conceived after “Get Happy,” its predecessor of the same year? Needless to say, I was happy as a lark that the band wasn’t breaking up (…yet anyway!) Sadly though, it is after this excursion that the records took a “singer/songwriter” feel as opposed to a “band” feel…if that makes any sense. All of that said, I still have an odd fascination with “Mad about the Wrong Boy.” It reminds me a bit of XTC’s pop (especially their very early “new wave” sounds). It’s a footnote for sure, but footnotes have their places too. It’s every bit as valid as the Rumour’s “solo” LP’s, and twice as interesting in its sound because it is not easy to pinpoint your musical influences. Underrated. :)

      • Bruce says:

        I’ll settle for that review. I think you’fe hit several nails on the head there. The writing was probably on the wall as everly as “My Funny Valentine”, don’t you think?.

        freudian slip there, on re-reading. “Everly” instead of “early.”

      • Nick S. says:

        Or even “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself.” (Your playing on Live Stiffs makes that song.)

      • Bruce says:

        That’s probabaly because I didn’t know what to with my … sorry.

      • Nick S. says:

        Apology excepted. ;0)

      • David Witherington says:

        Thanks, Bruce…and you’re right. “My Funny Valentine” was an omen of what was to come for sure. I seem to remember once in an interview you said “I don’t know how long we’ll last, but I don’t plan to watch him turn into Frank Sinatra!” (or something similar). I laughed out loud when I read it. And I agree with Nick S. that you did a wonderful job with Dusty’s “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself.” I just bought the “Live Stiffs” film on DVD, authorized by the director…best looking print I’ve ever seen. That film is a party!

      • Bruce says:

        How eerily prophetic :) You never saw the cover of “Trust” that the band had to protest against — where he dressed himelf in a Frank Sinatra hat and raincoat, sitting a a smoky bar. He wanted to call the album “Looking Italian”. When we was persuaded to drop the idea, he asked what we suggested calling the album instead. Pete replied, “Let’s not call it anything — they’ll just have to take it on trust.”

      • David Witherington says:

        Very interesting anecdote that I had never heard, Bruce! I love that story. Thank God you guys stepped in when you did or we’d have an album called “Looking Italian” by Elvis Costello and the Sticky Valentines! ;) Now that you describe it, that pic sounds like the one that wound up on the inner sleeve and eventually the U.S. “Watch Your Step” picture sleeve. “Trust” was a much better title too, as was the final cover. Stories like that would make your memoirs a hoot to read, my friend.

      • Bruce says:

        Yes, he might have sneaked it out somewhere — it was probably an expensive photo session.

      • David Witherington says:

        Haha, yes indeed! Hey,man…it’s rare to catch you online at the same time. Have a nice day there. It’s early morning here in NC, and I’m off to work. You’ve given me a fun story to share now. :)

      • Nick S. says:

        “Looking Italian”? Once again, what the HELL does that mean? Very interesting, indeed. No wonder you guys didn’t always get on so well. Nothing against Frank Sinatra. I understand he was a great, original singer, and interesting celebrity. But that type of imitation doesn’t work for me. Sounds like lots of push-pull went on in your band. And some Trust, for Pete’s sake. ;0)

      • Mike Miller says:

        I’ll bet it was just like the Monkees.

      • Nick S. says:

        Ha! Monkees Pre-Fab Four. Beatles do, Monkee see, Monkee do. (My turn to apologize.)

      • Bruce says:

        Have you forgotten your medication again?

      • Nick S. says:

        That was Dumb. Maybe I can borrow yours.

  6. Jerry Cohen says:

    Bruce: I will be in the U.K. from the 3rd through 10th of May. Do you reside in the North?

    • Bruce says:

      The reason I asked is that I’m probably going to driving around Wales with my Mum around that time.

      • Jerry Cohen says:

        OK. Sounds like fun. Let me know if you are around. I do not mean to intrude on your plans. I might go see some stone circles. Maybe Stonehenge, though I have no plans on picking up inspiration for a rock opera, a la Spinal Tap.

      • Bruce says:

        If you’re going to check out stone circles — you’re better going to Avebury which is 30 miles north. Far more impressive and unrestricted access.

  7. Jerry Cohen says:

    Bruce, I’ll be in London in a couple of weeks attending an event at Abbey Road studios. Do you ever give individual bass lessons?

  8. Nick S. says:

    I think fans of Elvis Costello & The Attractions will enjoy this video/interview from 1994. I did. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWwbnY3J44Y

    • Mike Miller says:

      Great find! Had not seen that one. Thanks for posting.

      • Nick S. says:

        Totally stumbled on that one a little while back. Audio was blocked on it re. “copyright.” I can’t read lips, but bookmarked anyway. Revisited a day or so ago, and lo and behold . . . audio block now lifted. It’s funny, because I always wanted to see (and hear!) something like this.

        Never heard Steve speak before. Seemed somewhat reticent. Never really heard much from Pete before . . . he’s a fun and informative listen. Toward the end, Elvis and Steve seemed to call Bruce a lynchpin to band. That’s what I heard, at least. And I agree.

        Bruce, were The Attractions purposely “press-shy”?

      • Bruce says:

        I think it was more a case of “others” being “press-eager”.

      • Bruce says:

        Hah — maybe that’s why they lynched me :) ))

      • Nick S. says:

        Sounds like “others” in the singular. Too bad. A treat to hear from WHOLE band.

      • Nick S. says:

        When you stated “others,” were you referring to EC? (Just want to be clear.)

        Costello’s dismissed your differences as “obscure” before (to perhaps deflect attention). Perhaps it is the stuff of tabloids. I don’t know. But I do know that band needed your musical input.

        Happy Easter if you celebrate at all.

      • Bruce says:

        I have to be subtle :)

    • Mike Miller says:

      20 years ago that was. One more round should be in order. What could be the harm at this point? I don’t see a problem, but I suppose there is one.

  9. Damo says:

    I think ‘an evening in the company of Bruce Thomas’ would please a lot of people. Perhaps a venue in London – perhaps a workshop the following day for true bass lovers!!

  10. Jerry Cohen says:

    Thanks for posting the early version of B-Movie. You’re right, sounds a bit like an Attractions tribute band. Whatever you guys were having for “inspiration” in the pub really did the trick! To give credit where it’s due, I love the line “I can’t stand it when it goes from reel to reel to real too real”. Unfortunately you have to read the lyrics to realize how clever that is. Here’s a fellow doing a fair job with your bass line.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-jhLUiXC20

  11. Jerry Cohen says:

    Speaking of inspirations for EC & The A’s records, could you shed a little light on “B Movie”, one of my favorite bass lines? Whose idea was it to drop a beat from the chorus? Was there a particular soul song that inspired the arrangement?

    • Bruce says:

      You may or may not know that the original version sounded like a Blondie pop arrangement — we actually sound like one of own soundalike bands playing it. After a bit of a brain-storming session in the pub we came back to the studio and I just began jamming the bass line — it was neither jazz nor reggaw but a bit of both. Everyone else fell in with it — so what you hear on record is the first and only version we played! The missing beat was just a natural consequence of the way the changes fell played with that feel. I can’t say I had any song in mind when I started playing — I mean you’fe got to do something original now and again :)

    • Mike Miller says:

      That’s why I posted them. I’ve only got 10 words maybe 15 tops.

      • Bruce says:

        You might like the other “B-Movie” pun then — “…there’s a rule book in Britannia that no-one tries to waive” Britannia rules the waves, but doesn’t waive the rules. I’m not sure it means anything though, other than the play on words. Never let anything weigh in the stand of a bit of wordplay.

      • Nick S. says:

        “Never let anything weigh in the stand of a bit of wordplay.” — Ha! That contradictory pun actually does weigh. Wordplay should mean something sometimes. Write on!

      • Mike Miller says:

        Did he ever allow any lyrical input?

      • Bruce says:

        Strangely enough, yes. I came up with the opening line “Lying about laying in bed” which he turned into a song for Dusty Springfield. “Possession” started off with the opening lines of “From Me To You” and was fairly collaborative at the start between the four of us on a taxi ride in Holland. More often, we rewrote his lyrics for our private amusement — as in “The Elephant for Dinner”.

      • Bosky says:

        I remember reading about flying bass guitars during the Trust sessions. Care to shed some light?

      • Bruce says:

        The “flying bass” started on the early US tours where we played so fast we often finished the hour set in 45 minutes. One promoter insisted we go back on stage and finish our contracted time — so we went back on and trashed the equipment for 10 minutes. In the course of that I threw my bass at Pete, who was busy demolishing his kit. He saw it just in time and ducked. In retrospect, it might have done him some real damage as no one was holding back. The flying bass became something that was prone to happen at other instances of high emotion — though it ws hardly a daily occurence and the bas lived to tell the tale … until it was stolen.

        I was in the support band (Quiver) at a Who gig in Glasgow — which was probably the best rock gig I’ve ever seen in my life. At one point things took off so much that Townshend unstrapped his Gibson SG and launched it into the crowd as he shouted “You know what to do with it!” A small crowd wrenched the guitar apart — and it was followed by SIX more as Townshend threw every guitar he had into the crowd to be torn apart. No one could out-do those boys!

      • Nick S. says:

        Interesting background re. lyrics. Gotta ask . . . what was “The Elephant for Dinner”? (Was EC in on the joke?)

      • Bruce says:

        “The Element Within Her”. He was aware of the joke, though it was against the amount that he would sometimes eat!

      • Mike Miller says:

        I remember Townshend saying in a long ago interview that he had broken 70 or 80 of those SG Specials and Gibson had stopped making the model he preferred. Of course, he usually embellishes the story somewhat. He’s one of my favorites, but he’s so full of shit sometimes.

      • Bruce says:

        It doesn’t surprise me — I saw him do six in one night! Much easier to break than a Strat.

      • Nick S. says:

        Was Farage vs. Clegg a big deal in UK? If you saw, what was your take?

      • Bruce says:

        Farage wiped the floor with Clegg. Clegg is everything that is wrong with modern politics and the modern world — a bland career non-entity who only serves to get in the way with his PC elfin safety leftie-liberal gibberings. No wonder no of them want Farage in any future debates — he’s actually saying what people think.

      • Nick S. says:

        Right. Watched both debates and felt the same way. Clegg came off as smarmy, elitist and disingenuous. A “career politician,” as you stated. Not believable. Kept prattling on about the “modern world” — fearmongering. Nothing “modern” about authoritarianism.

      • Bruce says:

        You’ve got Clegg spot-on.

      • Nick S. says:

        Is Farage something of a “rock star” in England? His politics reminds me some of Ron Paul. Paul was/is an unlikely “rock star” — older and no media darling like Obama — but still very popular with young people when he recently ran for President. Drew large, energized, enthusiastic crowds (including many young folks).

      • Bruce says:

        No Farage’s persona is definitley more “man in the pub you get on alright with cos he doesn’t talk shit”. His appeal is more to people of my generation who can remember what England was like before it got f**ked up.

      • Nick S. says:

        Hope British youth aren’t lost. First got hip to Farage via US political “millenial” web site couple years ago. He’s very well-liked there and related web sites. Surprised to learn his age recently. Assumed he was a bit older. Sharp. Keen intellect. Pleasure watching him skewer ignoble globalists. Maybe he can turn things around?

      • Bruce says:

        He’s going to do really well in the upcoming Euro elections — but longer terms, not so sure.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Guys like that who speak the truth and advocate real solutions are branded by the media as right wing kooks or racists and dismissed.

      • Bruce says:

        Plus ca change…

      • Nick S. says:

        It is said that corporate media is losing its audience (and influence).

        I like the Gandhi quote: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

      • Bruce says:

        You know what they say: “If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal”.

        Is the Oscar Pistrius trial getting much attention in the US?

      • Nick S. says:

        You’re asking the wrong person about Pistorius. Not that I’m aware of . . . but I don’t really follow “mainstream” news much anymore. I forgot about him. Looked him up on Wiki. “Blade Runner.” What an IMPRESSIVE athlete. (Talk about “fighting spirit.”) And what a shame with this murder trial. Do you think he’s guilty of murder?

      • Bruce says:

        It’s a parallel of the O J Simpson trial. He’s as guilty as hell. It’s the most implausible excuse for murder you’ll ever hear. Like you I very rarely get involved with mainstream news anymore, but this is one of those things that hooks you in. If you’re free of it, stay that way!!

      • Mike Miller says:

        Yes, it has. He’s got a real bullshit story in my opinion. He’ll probably get out of it or just get a hand slap, because he’s a celebrity.

      • Mike Miller says:

        In regards to OJ, William Dear’s book, which I have read, presents a more realistic scenario to what probably happened. Worth a read in my opinion.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2123547/OJ-innocent-Private-investigator-claims-Simpsons-SON-hacked-stars-wife-friend-death–went-trial-cover-up.html

      • Nick S. says:

        Ha! I like your advice. One thing re. Pistorius case that I read at Wiki that really jumped out at me was that he knew victim for only 3 months. What an incredibly short span of time for tragedy. So, of course I had to see a pic of her and she was very beautiful-looking (as expected). Looks like a crime of passion. The “love drive” is a terribly powerful force of nature.

      • Bruce says:

        He was a jealous / possessive / narcissitic / sociopath with an unhealthy interest in guns. Unfortuantely her only route of escape was to hide in the bathroom.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Maybe after that crying jag he’ll have a leg up in his trial.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Maybe she told him she wished he had one good foot and he took it the wrong way.

      • Bruce says:

        You can use all the old Heather Mills-McCartney lines again :)

      • Mike Miller says:

        Sniveling is a strategy, I suppose.

      • Bruce says:

        He’s laying it on thick.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Doesn’t look like he’s got a leg to stand on., Ma Lady.

      • Bruce says:

        He’s had a bad couple of days, under cross-examination — you’re right.

    • Mike Miller says:

      Those tracks are from an”import” CD, which no doubt was made from an LP that was probably from a radio broadcast. It’s a bit faster than even the band played it. You have to tune sharp from 440 to match up. Why you guys played fast, I have no idea either.

      I really like this “High Fidelity” version. But, the released version fits the concept of the album better.

  12. Bosky says:

    Hi Bruce,

    Long time fan of your bass playing. You have been a huge influence on my own playing.
    Since the Attractions’ last split, I’ve lost interest in EC as far as his new endeavors are concerned.
    The Imposters are just what their name implies. The Attractions were and remain the best rock combo
    I’ve ever experienced.

    I have a loaded question, which I don’t entirely expect you to answer: If EC (or one of his ‘staff’) were to contact you about doing another Attractions tour/album, what would your response be?

    One can dream…

    • Bruce says:

      Easily answered — my response would be the same as it is when Obama rings me and says he’s had enough and wants me to take over, or the Dalai Lam get in touch for my advice on conflict resolution. In other words, I’m not expecting the call.

      • Bosky says:

        It’s a shame that EC can’t put The Feud behind him.

        On a less personal note, can you share what you like about the Precision bass?
        I recently bought a Fiesta Red Squier Classic Vibe Precision in honor of your influence in my musical life. It plays beautifully (sorry, didn’t have the funds to buy your Profile Bass…maybe some day…).

      • Bruce says:

        The P-Bass up until early ’65 was unsurpassable. I have a Squier Vintage Vibe bass that was kindly sent to me by Fender last year — which it was interesting to compare to the Profile. I just did some recording work with my own new Profile Bass — and I have to say it was as perfect a sound as I’ve had anytime, anywhere. It may not be a budget guitar, though we did about an entry-level version. But by the same token we scrapped the idea of a thousands of dollars custom-shop version too, and settled for what I like to call “the pro version”. I can honestly say that the off-the-shelf Profile I’m using is the best bass I’ve had. I’ve got the action as low as I’ve ever seen on a bass, I’ll probably take it up a bit again, but I just wanted to see what the neck would allow. If you’re low on funds, I suggest you steal one. Or maybe we should run a competition to win one — and I could rig it for for you :)

      • Mike Miller says:

        Bosky: Do what you have to do to get a Profile. Bruce is absolutely correct. I’ve got 2 ’60s Precisions and they are both in the cases. I’m in the US and I think I ended up spending around $900 total with the shipping and import fees. I have not came across anything in that range of price that can touch it. I got 4-year old strings on it and it sounds great!

      • Bruce says:

        Thank you for that ringing endorsement, Mike.

      • Bosky says:

        I may have to. 900 isn’t outrageous for a bass that The Master Himself hath designed. Especially if the action can be nice and low as Bruce mentioned above…

      • Bruce says:

        The action on the Profile bass can go lower than a limbo-dancing rattlesnake in a wagon wheel track.

      • Bosky says:

        Talk about wordplay…

      • Bruce says:

        Good idea, Bosky.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Your starting into Jed Clampett-isms. Like: ” Tighter than the top string on a 2 dollar fiddle”

      • Bruce says:

        I knew I’d heard it somewhere.

      • Bosky says:

        One of my favorite bass parts of yours is the one you laid down for Beyond Belief.
        So simple, yet perfectly serving the song. Would you mind sharing your memories of that session?

      • Bruce says:

        In the “Imperial Bedroom” sessions, we started improvising completely new versions of the songs we’d just rehearsed — changing genres and changing the arrangements — with EC often rewriting completely new sets of lyrics overnight. Melodies, lyrics and arrangements were in a continual state of flux. “Beyond Belief” was recorded by Elvis, Steve and me to a ‘click track’ (an electronic metronome), without any drums, when Pete failed to turn up at the appointed hour for the day’s recording. The previous day, he’d been spotted in the pub round the corner, flat on his back, having been laid out cold as the result of an altercation with Paul Weller (no-one found out what the subject of their debate was). When he eventually rolled in, EC told him, ‘get behind those drums and put the headphones on, you’re only getting one chance at this.’ In rehearsal, the song had been “The Land of Give and Take”; but overnight the words had been entirely rewritten and the arrangement changed — and Pete had heard none of this. That’s why, when you listen to the track, you hear the drums just marking time and putting in the occasional fill. The drums don’t come into tempo until the song reaches the ‘outro’. Up to that point the sense of tension is genuine and when the drums explode into life it’s with a real sense of relief.

      • Nick S. says:

        Wow. Never heard the Weller angle on Pete’s tardiness before. Backhanded thanks to Weller for that happy accident. During the outro of “Beyond Belief,” your playing goes into some sort of hyper-overdrive — my favorite part of that song. Standout and indelible.

      • Bruce says:

        Yep, rocking out to the click track.

      • Bosky says:

        What is your favorite EC track that you played on? Least favorite?

      • Bruce says:

        The short answer: Shipbuilding / I Want You

      • Bosky says:

        How about favorite/least favorite album?

      • Bruce says:

        This Year’s Model / All This Useless Beauty

      • Bosky says:

        I was expecting Goodbye Cruel World to win for your least favorite album.

      • Bruce says:

        It’s a close run thing, to be sure.

      • Bosky says:

        You mentioned that the BY tour was one of your most enjoyable tours. Were the positive vibes still there when you went in to record ATUB?

      • Bruce says:

        Pretty much, yes.

    • Bosky says:

      I had read that Pete was nursing a large hangover when he did his drum part for that song. I didn’t know he was playing to a click track. You really should write your memoirs…

  13. Mike Miller says:

    You may have seen this yesterday…another “Bang Ding Ow” moment on Denver local tv.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wmwm8a-Owc

  14. David Witherington says:

    Hey, Bruce! I love this Don Covay track and never knew that it inspired “Goon Squad” until now. Too cool…I also thought that you guys’ “Time is Tight” on speed arrangement of “Temptation” was brilliant. And then there’es the straight blues covers you played so wonderfully, like Percy Mayfield’s “Danger Zone” on the BBC. That’s a real gem, as was the outtake of Bobby Bland’s “I’ll Take Care of You.” I loved the EC&A’s albums so much then that I would seek out the records you covered, and boy was the Bobby Bland catalog from Duke Records a treasure to discover. Thanks for these tidbits of background. They always flesh out the picture and put the reader there. I’m still hoping for your memoirs…maybe you could revise and salvage the best parts of “On The Road…Again” for it too. I’m sorry I missed that one, and the price is a little out of my range right now.

    • Bruce says:

      I’ve just be jamming along with the Velvelettes, “Needle in a Haystack” — what a great track that is. Willie Mabon is a good “rediscovery” too.

      • David Witherington says:

        Yes…wonderful stuff! My Willie Mabon vinyl collection is again thanks to you and Elvis. You have great taste in all things R’n'B. I really wish that an EC&A’s blues album had come about back in the day. Thanks, brother. Have a great day. :)

      • Nick S. says:

        I’m now reminded of EC & A’s fine cover of Smokey Robinson & Miracles’ “From Head To Toe.” (I bought the single way back when.)

        Where is this appearance from?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL3yhMEJSHM

      • Bruce says:

        I couldn’t honestly tell you — it looks like about 1982/3.

      • Nick S. says:

        Do you have an all-time favourite Northern Soul artist or group?

      • Bruce says:

        Northern Soul didn’t really have specific artists as such, it was more a movement in the north of England (where I grew up) that embraced the Soul and Motown acts more enthusiastically than other parts of the country and which kept going long after the rest of the world moved on to psychedlia and prog. A lot of the artists that’ve already been mentioned in this post would be favourites — but I think it’s more a case of favourite tracks — every artist did at least one or two classics worthy of a place on “the jukebox from heaven”.

      • Nick S. says:

        I’d heard the term “Northern Soul” before but wasn’t clear on it prior to your explanation. Also wasn’t aware of The Velvelettes or their “Needle In A Haystack.” This catchy song is quite infectious (and lead singer charismatic): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhVXsBn1pOw

      • Bruce says:

        I think, given the breaks, they should have been a bigger band than the Supremes.

      • Nick S. says:

        Is Joe Cocker considered “Northern Soul” at all? I recently saw the film “Mad Dogs and Eglishmen” for the first time. Wasn’t very familiar with Cocker before. Did you see the movie? Do you like his music? JC seemed a likeable enough character . . . don’t know about Leon Russell, though (but clearly talented).

      • Bruce says:

        The short answer to your first question is, no. He came later. Joe Cocker was a former gas fitter from Sheffield who did a passable impression of Ray Charles and then got progressively more stoned…Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong…RIP. I must confess I have a hard time with that entire pantheon of overblown Seventies bands who thought that more drugs, more intensity or overplaying meant “better” — and I cite Lynyrd Skyryd’s “Freebird” as the anthem that represents all that’s worst about that era.

      • John Foyle says:

        The clip of From Head To Toe is from Pebble Mill At One, Sept 13 1982 http://www.elviscostello.info/wiki/index.php/TV_1982-09-13_Pebble_Mill_at_One

      • Bruce says:

        Thanks for that info, John — with the Val Singleton lookalike introducing it. I knew I was fairly close with the date, as we recorded that track in a studio where as I recall the TV was showing a 1982 World Cup game featuring Spain at the time. We did four tracks that day — “I Turn Around”, a demo for Frida from Abbs’s solo album; an Amen Corner cover and … something else.

      • Nick S. says:

        HA!!! Yeah . . . that was a bizarre movie. Something of a stoned, touring freak show. Woodstock Nation, Inc. Cocker actually seemed a bit lost, naive and overwhelmed by it all. Leon Russell looks (and comes off a bit) evil. Old when he was young, but no old soul. That’s funny (and true) what you say about Skynyrd, too. But I liked them.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Cocker and The Grease Band were one of the highlights of the Woodstock film.

      • Bruce says:

        Their finest hour — but there were plenty of other acts on to make them look good!

      • Nick S. says:

        It is St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Chicago, and many Irish Americans here are out and about, bedecked in green with shamrocks. The Chicago River is dyed green, drinking parties and parades abound. (Chicago has a large Irish/American population, as do other American big cities. Seems like the biggest ethnic celebration — by far — I’m aware of.) Is St. Pat’s Day a huge deal in the UK, too?

      • Bruce says:

        In certain areas where there is a high concentration of Irish in the population.

      • Nick S. says:

        I Wiki’d Woodstock and was surprised to learn that many of the featured musicians had such short sets — an hour or less. Even more surprising was that they were performing from afternoon/evening through midmorning!(Does that kind of overnight playing happen anymore?!) I recall Santana’s performance in original movie as a personal highlight. Alvin Lee said something like event/movie marked the beginning of the end of the band he was in . . . due to future audience expectations.

      • Bruce says:

        Even if Alvin Lee had played ten minutes he’d have still got in more notes than most people manage in a lifetime. He made a rod for his own back there if people only went to see him for his million notes a minute act. I’m afraid Santana’s performances are usually a low point for me, for almost the opposite reason. Although Carlos would often hold a note for a long time (usually accompanied by a mock-passionate grimace) said note would often be held slightly sharp or slightly flat, just enough to be really painful. However, as far as that goes — no-one was more painful on the ears than Janis Joplin.

      • Mike Miller says:

        I thought Joplin was/is highly over-rated and I never cared for her gig. Mary Bridget Davies, who recorded her solo album at my studio, has gained prominence with her Joplin tribute show, which has had a Broadway run and tour. I think she’s more entertaining than the original.
        On the Santana segment in the film, I thought Greg Rolle was great. If I could start over, I’d get me a B3.
        Of course, the best was The Who. Townshend likes to tell his story of booting Abbie H. off the stage, but strangely enough, despite several cameras running, it hasn’t shown up yet. ( That I know of).

        In honor of Santana:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BrLEuzVCVQ

      • Bruce says:

        TBH — that’s pretty much what they sound like to me anyway.

      • Nick S. says:

        I’m not really a big Santana fan either, but he has a recognizable style that I’m OK with. Also, I liked his drummer in the movie. And like you said re. JC & Grease Band, I’d say other acts made Santana look better.

        Good point about Alvin. But I suppose it’s not uncommon for people to become disillusioned with what they thought they wanted. That’s the breaks. One could say he was lucky to get such a big break.

        I’m pretty much with you two re. Janis. But I thought Big Brother was an OK backing band, with a decent bassist. And she made a fairly interesting/amusing young guest on talk shows of the time. But the whole Woodstock Nation thing seemed to glorify drug use and abuse and for some — Janis, Jimi — it became their own untimely undoing. Bad cultural influence, for that reason.

      • Bruce says:

        The difference is that Hendrix at least was propelled to the stratosphere in terms of technique, innovation and expression — Janis was propelled into the depths of her delusion that she was a blues singer.

      • Mike Miller says:

        I would agree with you on Skynyrd. They ran it into the ground.

      • Bruce says:

        You could say that!

      • Mike Miller says:

        I’ve recently started reading Clive Davis’s book on his career. He states that seeing Janis J. perform at the Monterey Pop festival in ’67 was his musical “epiphany”. He seems to indicate that she was comparable to the invention of the wheel. I’m sure that the fact that everyone was on acid had nothing to do with it.

        Actually, his book is very good. Explains a lot about Columbia records and also, how they wanted him to move to California and head-up the recently purchased Fender Musical Instruments. He declined that job however.

      • Bruce says:

        That was when Fenders stopped being good — when CBS took over. Clive Davis similar epiphanies with lots of artists — any that were making him a few bucks.

      • Mike Miller says:

        Clive’s got a chapter coming up on the Greatful Dead. Another group, who are cultural icons and great musicians, that I could never really get into. They were certainly a money making powerhouse, but I could never take them very seriously especially when it turned into carnival act.

      • Bruce says:

        Great bass player though — not afraid to be melodic and feature as much as the lead guitar — he was definitely an influence on me.

      • Nick S. says:

        Took me decades to really warm to and respect The Grateful Dead. Now I think they were a very cool and unique band. Hope to explore them more in the future. Have you ever met Phil Lesh?

      • Bruce says:

        No, I never did meet him. The other cool guy is Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane who has the unique distinction of playing with the psychedelic funsters and one of the tightest rhythm sections ever, in James Brown’s Famous Flames — not bad on the resume.

      • Nick S. says:

        Saw Jack Casady play several years ago, in electric Hot Tuna. Powerful performance. Just Wiki’d him, and read that in one of his bands, he decided to tape/bind some fingers together in order to simplify his playing. Found that interesting.

      • Bruce says:

        It is interesting.

  15. Nick S. says:

    This could unintendedly get me in trouble. And remember . . . I’m no musician. But this cool song (that I never heard before) reminds me something of “Goon Squad” — another very cool song, made mostly so by your nimble playing. (If I’m way off “bass” here, delete.)

    • Bruce says:

      You’re right it is a cool song — and looking it up had me surfing through a few other old soul faves from back in the day.

      • Nick S. says:

        Do you know who Don Covay’s bass player was on that track? I tried looking up, but couldn’t find. Seems Duck Dunn may have been.

        Also . . . your post prompted me to check out Covay’s “Sookie Sookie.” I first knew DC’s name via Steppenwolf’s — faithful, it turns out — cover. Always liked their version. And now his original, too. Fun song to play on drums.

      • Bruce says:

        Could be Duck Dunn, or Alex Fountain. Jimi Hendrix played and sang on a few of his tracks too.

  16. Mike Miller says:

    And perhaps moved to the key of E?

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