Jack White was the musical guest on last night’s Saturday Night Live, and in a possessed six-minute performance he threaded together a full century of music history of mixed genres, as only this musicologist can. The performance starts with lines from the “Don’t Hurt Yourself” collaboration he did with Beyoncé for her Lemonade album, shifted into “Ball and Biscuit” from the White Stripe’s Elephant album, and quoted lyrics from Blind Willie Johnson’s “Jesus is Coming Soon”, a 1928 gospel song about the Spanish Flu epidemic.
So, here you go with the SNL performance, followed by Beyoncé’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself”, a live performance of “Ball and Biscuit”, and the original “Jesus is Coming”. The full lyrics to Johnson’s song are straight out of today’s headlines.
White’s second performance last night included a nod to Eddie Van Halen, who passed away on Tuesday. White played his own tune “Lazaretto” on an EVH brand guitar, and did some “tapping” at 2:40 – the stylistic touch Van Halen perfected if not invented.
It was 50 years ago Friday that Jimi Hendrix died in London, a bit shy of his 28th birthday. Jimi’s rapid rise from obscurity to stardom spanned little more than a year. He had moved to New York in 1966 where Chas Chandler, bass player for The Animals looking for new artists to produce, saw Hendrix playing in a club with his band Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Chandler brought Hendrix to London in September of that year. Chas was especially taken with Hendrix’s cover of “Hey Joe”, and in December 1966 the song was released as the first single by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, reaching #6 on the UK charts. While Jimi’s fame in Europe was exploding in early 1967, his reputation had not reached the States, that is until he played the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967. Here is a clip of The Jimi Hendrix Experience playing “Hey Joe” at Monterey.
The Experience’s set at Monterey is one of the most mesmerizing rock and roll performances ever given. I highly recommend tracking down the documentary by D. A. Pennebaker and Chris Hedges that includes the entire set. Here’s the trailer to whet your musical appetite.
A couple of months after Jimi’s death, Yusuf Islam, then known as Cat Stevens, released his breakthrough album Tea for the Tillerman. This past Friday Yusuf released Tea for the Tillerman 2, on which he gives some of the original tracks fresh treatments for their 50th anniversaries. Thanks for the tip, Helga!
One of the most interesting updates is “On the Road to Find Out”. It is not one of his better known songs, so the arrangement and video allow you to approach it as a brand new piece of music. Check out the Tillerman 2 version and a live performance of the original from 1971.
The documentary Anacostia Delta: The Legacy of DC’s TeleMasters will be released this coming Friday. If you love the electric guitar, get this movie. If you want to see electric guitar played as good as it can be played, get this movie.
Anacostia Delta will clue you in to the careers of the late Danny Gatton, one of his major influences, the late Roy Buchanan, and DC’s rich guitar scene that extends to this very day.
Read my 2013 post on Gatton to see some of his virtuosity. The best there ever was. And enjoy this solo jam pulled from the 1971 documentary Introducing Roy Buchanan, a movie that helped take his career to the next level.
In addition to historical clips, Anacostia Delta is anchored in footage from a 2015 concert at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia (I was there). Here’s a bootleg of a full line up of DC guitar legends playing the jazz standard, “How High the Moon“.
If you want to kick back for awhile and hear more incredible guitar playing, check out this 1993 show featuring Gatton, Albert Lee and Vince Gill. Lee and Gill are two more of the best guitarists ever to walk the planet.
A couple of weeks ago a friend turned me on to the keyboard wizardry of Lachlan “Lachy” Doley. Thanks, Rainer! Doley is an Australian whose 2019 album Make or Break debuted at the top of the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Jazz and Blues Chart. A solo artist and group leader since 2011, Doley has also been a session player since the 1990’s.
Here’s the 2016 live performance of “Stop Listening to the Blues” that got me going on this post. Doley is known for playing Hammond organs, which are among the most incredible sounding and beautifully complicated electromechanical devices ever created. It’s wonderful to hear artists like Doley keeping that sound alive.
The keyboard parked on top of the Hammond is a Hohner Clavinet (another amazing instrument with strings and pickups under the keyboard) equipped with a monster whammy bar. Here’s Doley doing his best Hendrix imitation.
Digging into Doley’s past took me on a detour to the Australian band, Powderfinger. Doley played on the band’s fifth studio album, Vulture Street, which won the 2003 ARIA award for Best Rock Album. Doley then toured with the band from 2007 to 2010. Here’s “(Baby I’ve Got You) On My Mind” from Vulture Street. The song doesn’t feature Doley, but there’s a point.
While I haven’t seen Powderfinger compared to the legendary Australian band INXS, seems to me their lead singer Bernard Fanning is trying to channel a bit of Michael Hutchence in this video. And though Fanning is pretty good, Australia may never see another Micheal Hutchence.
This past week in music covered an awful lot of ground – definitely music now and then.
Taylor Swift dropped a new album, Folklore, recorded in quarantine over the past four months. It seems to have gotten more attention in two days than all other quarantine musical output combined, but hey, she is TSwift. The album features suitably stripped down arrangements, Swift’s young woman, broken heart lyrics, and really nice, soft vocals. The song that jumps out at me is “seven”. Its vocal style and harmonies are different from other tunes on the album, and the first several lines remind me of something that I can’t quite put my finger on! Call to Music Now and Then readers: help me out on this!
While TSwift was releasing 16 new tracks, the Rolling Stones excavated one unreleased track, “Scarlet”, from 1974 featuring Jimmy Page sitting in with the band. I’m not sure Page and Keith Richards are a match made in guitar heaven, but it’s rock history.
While taking in these new releases, we should also take in a bit of the legacy of Peter Green who passed away yesterday. Green was the co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, but left the band a few years before Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined. Green was a highly respected guitarist, serving a brief stint replacing Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. He also wrote “Black Magic Woman”, covered by Carlos Santana a year after Fleetwood Mac released it as a single. Here’s a live version of FM’s hit, “Oh Well” from 1969, with Green on guitar and vocals.