Monday, February 25, 2008

Steve Winwood: Man or God?

In his ongoing career, which has thus far spanned four decades, Steve Winwood has built one of the most amazing resumes in rock history. From the Spencer Davis Group, which Winwood joined as a teen, to Traffic and Blind Faith, to sitting in with some of the biggest names in music history (Jimi Hedrix, George Harrison, Muddy Waters, just to name a few), Mr. Winwood has made quite a name for himself. In addition to the many bands of which Winwood has been a part, he is also a multi instrumentalist excelling at guitar and organ as well as various other instruments. In this entry, with the aid of some concert footage and recordings, you will be able to take a little glimpse into the life of a true rock legend.

The Spencer Davis Group:

Steve and his brother Muff joined the Spencer Davis group in 1963, when they decided that they wanted to pursue music full time. Steve was only 15 at the time! Even at such a young age, Steve was recognized as having a gritty and mature soul singing voice in addition to his amazing organ and guitar playing abilities. By 1965, at the age of 17, Winwood had already been featured on various hit records including the smash hit, "Gimme Some Lovin'" (above). The song below, "Dust My Blues," is an adaptation of Elmore James' electric version of the Robert Johnson classic, "Dust My Broom." While the video above features Winwood on organ and vocals, the video below features Winwood on lead guitar. This track also features some great Winwood blues leads, most likely learned while playing in the back up bands for such artists as John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, and Howlin Wolf.


Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group in 1967 to form the band Traffic. Although the future members of the band jammed together often at The Elbow Room, in Birmingham, their first official recordings were released in 1967 as the soundtrack to the British feature film "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush." Towards the end of the year, the group was signed to Island Records where they had their first major hit, "Paper Sun." The debut album on which this song was features, "Dear Mr. Fantasy," was only released in the UK. They released one more album, "Traffic," and then broke up in 1968. The group reformed in 1969 and released the album "John Barley Corn Must Die." In 1971, the band picked up a few new members (Jim Gordon on Drums and percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah) and released the live album "Welcome to the Canteen." Traffic would go on to release three other albums (including "The Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys") before their breakup in 1974. Traffic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. The tracks featured in this segment are taken from a live performance in Santa Monica in 1972. These cuts again show off Winwood's abilities as a multi instrumentalist as he is playing piano on "Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys" (above) and guitar on "John Barleycorn" (below).

Blind Faith:

Blind Faith's beginnings date back to Cream's breakup in 1968. It was at this same time that Traffic broke up for the first time as well. The group began in 1968 merely as a weekly jam with Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood in the basement of Clapton's house in Surrey. Clapton was quite pleased with these jams so he and Winwood decided to start a band, but they needed a drummer. As a result, in 1969 they recruited former cream drummer Ginger Baker. Later in 1969, the group added bassist Ric Grech and recorded their only album, "Blind Faith." Soon after, they started touring and were deemed the first big rock and roll super group. After a only a few months on the road and one hit album, the band called it quits. Winwood and Grech went onto reform Traffic, while Clapton sat in with groups such as the Plastic Ono Band and Delaney and Bonnie. The tracks featured in this segment were filmed at Blind Faith's first live gig, a free concert at London's Hyde Park on June 7, 1969. The above track is called "Can't Find My Way Home." Notice how Steve Winwood announces it as a new track. The track below is a cover of The Rolling Stone's "Under My Thumb." This is definitely a version infused with soul. Winwood is featured on Hammond and vocals on both tracks.

Bonus from 1970:

This is a show that the Grateful Dead played at the Fillmore East on November 16, 1970. None other than Steve Winwood sits in with the boys on Pigpen's Hammond beginning with Hard to Handle (Otis Redding) all the way through the end of Not Fade Away. Winwood also does some vocal work on a few of the songs. I hope all of you enjoy this show as much as I do.

Life after Traffic:

Steve Winwood went on to have a lucrative solo career throughout the 1980s and the 1990s and still releases albums today. In fact, Winwood last released an album, "About Time," in 2003. Below is an interview from a Relix Magazine which came out about two years ago. Below that is a some concert footage of Winwood performing the Traffic hit "Dear Mr. Fantasy" in 2003. I am including this just to make sure that everyone knows that Steve can still rock...hard!!! Enjoy.

Here's what Steve has to say:

Next year marks 40 years for you in the music industry. Did you have rock-n-roll fantasies as a kid, that your career was something you envisioned, or has it been unexpected in its success?
I was only interested in music at the time—all kinds of music—and I knew that that as what I wanted to do. My father encouraged me, that if music was something I felt passionate about, and if I wanted to do it, then that was enough reason to do it, even if it wouldn’t serve me well as a career. And I have been very lucky that I have been able to make a living at it since.

What was your role in the release of the recent Traffic DVD, The Last Great Jam? Why this show?
I spent many years carefully listening, watching and helping to edit. I was very involved with the production, from the audio and visual side. There was a lot of synching things up from different shows, and it often needed a musician’s eye. In terms of performance videos, there’s nothing quite like it out there.
Jim and I had an agreement that neither of us would tour without the other as Traffic. We were going to release this DVD with a Traffic tour last year, but Jim got sick and wasn’t able to do the tour. We thought he may recover and continue on with the project, but this was not to be because of his untimely death. Therefore, now Traffic will never be as a band in the future and so I feel this DVD is a fitting legacy for that peculiar band that was Traffic. It is a very special piece.

You opened for the Grateful Dead that tour in Las Vegas and Garcia shows up on the DVD for “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” What was the interaction like with the band?

The band was very welcoming and accommodating and looked after us with a great deal of kindness. Also, the Dead played some Traffic songs in their set, which I think helped in endearing us to their fans. It’s been said that the Dead were somewhat of a hard band to open for because of the dedication of their fans.

When Traffic first formed in 1967, the band retreated to a small cottage in the Berkshire countryside to work on its sound and just play. Can you tell me a little bit more about what that time was like and how Traffic’s sound developed? It seemed that music was at such at an exciting point then, particularly in England with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and the Pink Floyd.

We went out and rented a cottage, which was in the middle of nowhere, just so we could play music all the time, without disturbing neighbors, etc., which was often the case when trying to do the same in London.
Traffic set out with a specific idea to create music that incorporated many different styles: jazz, folk, rock, blues and many ethnic styles. We set out to combine all of the elements in such a way as to forge a music that was peculiar to ourselves. Having said that, the ‘60s were a great time of social change and there were changes occurring not only in music, but all across the social spectrum.

A number of Traffic’s songs—“Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys” come immediately to mind—have had incredible staying power; that the songs’ strength haven’t diminished over the years. For you, what are key components and/or elements that give songs like those their strength?

The writing we did in the early days was a means of having something that we could jam to, a way of creating. Often, Jim would scribble down some lyrics and then we’d find a way of playing and I’d have these lyrics sitting on top of the organ or in front of the guitar and sing as we were playing. That’s really how the songs came about. We didn't really construct a song with choruses or with verses—writing just became an excuse to play together really, to jam and I think that that is the attraction of many of their songs.
If I knew the key components, every single one of my songs would have staying power, but perhaps honesty and not trying to be something outside the scope of what one is is what gave these songs their strength.

You’ve been in so many different situations—is there a place between sideman and leader, one where all members are leaders? Or, in your opinion, do bands function best with a leader?
Traffic as a trio was definitely a band where all the members were leaders. If a leader is needed, one needs to be there to step into the breech—a kind of management skill.

You’ve played Bonnaroo and were given the Lifetime Achievement award at The Jammys two years ago. What’s your sense of current improv-based rock groups?
Love ‘em—a reaction against over-homogenized pop; a much-needed part of today’s music scene.

One of your biggest influences is Ray Charles. Did you ever get a chance to spend some time with him?
Yes, I did spend some time talking to him—not playing, however. He did say that he liked my music and started singing some bits—I was awestruck.

Though Rick Grech passed away in 1990, there’s a big question looming given the recent Cream reunion: wouldn’t it be appropriate if there were a Blind Faith reunion after?
I don’t think Eric Clapton would want to jump straight into another reunion after Cream, and I think reformations and reunions aren’t always the best idea as sometimes the members have moved on.

You’ve won Grammys, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, played with just about everybody who’s anybody in the music business. Has anything eluded you?
I hope to keep learning about music. It’s a vast subject and a never-ending learning curve. Accolades are very nice, but mostly tend to be industry-driven, and that has never been what I have strived for. I am, however, proud to be recognized for work that reaches people.

Steve Winwood was interviewed by Josh Baron.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Playlist for the Jeff Mann Rock and Roll Show 2008-02-22

1. King Floyd - Groove Me - Heavy Soul
2. Betty Wright - Clean Up Woman - Heavy Soul
3. Lyn Collins - Mr. Big Stuff - Check Me Out If You Don't Know Me By Now
4. Aretha Franklin - Son of a Preacher Man - This Girl's In Love With You
5. Wilson Pickett - Hey Jude - Hey Jude*
6. The Temptations - Cloud 9 - Greatest Hits Volume 2
7. Tower of Power - You Got to Funkifize - Bump City
8. Bohannon - The Pimp Walk - Stop and Go
9. The JBs - Pass the Peas - Food For Thought
10. Earl Van Dyke - Thank You - The Earl of Funk
11. James Brown - Sex Machine - Solid Gold
12. James Brown - Get Up Offa that Thing - Solid Gold
13. MFSB - TSOP - The Rocking Sounds of R&B
14. Hot Chocolate - You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate
15. Stevie Wonder - Supeprstition - Talking Book

This show was a really special one as WSUM actually turned 6 while I was on the air. That's right 2:22 on February 22, 2002, the first WSUM broadcast hit the radio waves. The * next to Hey Jude is there because that is the song that was playing at 2:22. Is it fate that my favorite part of one of my favorite songs was playing at the exact moment that WSUM first went on the air? The World may never know. If you missed this show or would like to hear it again and again and again, click here. This is one of the best shows I have ever done so enjoy. I even had 6 callers for this one and that is a personal record.

Playlist for Drive Your Funky Soul 2008-02-22

1. James Brown - Stoned to the Bone - The Big Payback: 1971-1975
2. The Isley Brothers - It's Your Thing - The Essential
3. Wilson Pickett - Mustang Sally - The Very Best Of
4. Aretha Franklin - Baby I Love You - The Very Best
5. Etta James - Tell Mama - Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions
6. The Clyde Stubblefield Band - I Wish - Live at the King Club
7. Janis Joplin - Piece of My Heart - Live at Woodstock
8. The Rolling Stones - Route 66 - England's Newest Hit Makers
9. The Allman Brothers Band - Midnight Rider - Idlewild South
10. The Rolling Stones - Honky Tonk Women - Through The Past
11. The Beatles - Oh Darling! - Abbey Road
12. Al Green - Let's Stay Together - Al Green: Greatest Hits
13. Marvin Gaye - What's Going On - What's Going On
14. Cannonball Adderly - Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!

This was a special show as the 22nd was the sixth anniversary of WSUM going on the air. All of the songs played on this show have been played at least once by The Clyde Stubblefield Band, the group who played that night at the WSUM Anniversary celebration. If you missed the show, or you would like to listen to it again, click here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Parliameters with Some Kimocks on the Side

Although this post is devoted to a band that only played one gig (February 9, 2007), their greatness should not be underestimated. I came across this recording sometime in November and I have been jamming it ever since. From the musicians involved, to the setlist, everything about it is fantastic. Below is a recording of the occasion that you can jam to your heart's content. It is also available for download so you can put it on your IPOD or burn it onto a CD...all I ask is that you play it loud. You're welcome.

Below is the List of tunes that the band plays during the show:

1. Red Hot Mama
2. You're The One
3. Many Rivers To Cross
4. She Said
5. Cissy Got The Blues
6. Merle's Boogie
7. Whiter Shade Of Pale
8. Take A Chance>Just Kissed My Baby>Funkify Your Life

The band playing on this show is credited as Steve Kimock and Friends, but that title does not do enough justice. This group is a funk power house as a result of the veteran funkateers who play with Kimock. On bass is George Porter Jr., of The Meters. He has also recorded various solo albums. If you haven't heard it, I would highly recommend checking out It's Life, Porter's latest solo endeavor. You should especially check this album out if you are a fan of the tune "She Said," as it appears on this one. Also, if you are not familiar with The Meters, it is essential that you check out this album immediately. The band also includes Bernie Worrell of Parliament/Funkadelic and Talking Heads fame on organ. If you just can't get enough of his funky keys, check this album out. Worrell's sound on this one is a little different than they what you are hearing here, but his work on "Mothership Connection" is still classic. Rounding out the rhythm section is Steve Kimock's son John Morgan Kimock. He's only 17!!!

This is a clip filmed at the show of Steve laying it down for us. Steve might be ripping, but a brief look around confirms that George and Bernie are there too.

This video of a John Morgan is a testament to his greatness. You couldn't see him in the last video so I posted this one because he is amazing. There's also another little treat at the end of this one as we get to see the beginning of what turns out to be a killer George Porter Jr. bass solo.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Jeff Mann Show Setlist for 2008-02-15

1. The Temptations - I Wish It Would Rain - The Best of Volume 2
2. Earl Van Dyke - Someday We'll Be Together - The Earl of Funk
3. Lowell Fulsom - Why Don't we Do it in The Road? - In a Heavy Bag
4. Jimi Hendrix - Like a Rolling Stone - Live at Monterey
5. Herbie Mann - Whats Goin' On? - Push Push
6. The Rolling Stones - Sympathy for the Devil - Beggar's Banquet
7. The O'Jays - Backstabbers - Backstabbers
8. David McCullum - The Edge - Droppin' Science
9. Lyn Collins - Try a Little Tenderness - Check Me Out if You Don't Know me by Now
10. The J.B.s - The Grunt - Food For Thought
11. Bob Marley - The Heathen - Exodus
12. Bob Marley - Trenchtown Rock - Live!
13. Bob Marley - Natural Mystic - Exodus
14. Jimmy Smith - 8 Counts for Rita - Unfinished Business
15. Billy Cobham - To the Women in my Life

Click here to get to the website where you can listen to this show. I would like to note that all of the music on this show is played off of various vinyl from my personal collection.

Drive Your Funky Soul Setlist 2008-02-15

1. Pee Wee Crayton - When It Rains It Pours - Pee Wee's Blues:The Complete Aladin Sessions
2. Jimmy Rogers - Broken Hearted Blues - Chicago Blues Masters Volume 2
3. Jimmy Withershpoon and Brother Jack McDuff - Part Time Woman - The Blues Is Now
4. Bobby Bland - Stormy Monday Blues - The Anthology
5. Albert King - Laundromat Blues - Born Under a Bad Sign
6. Sam & Dave - When Something is Wrong with My Baby - The Best Of
7. William Bell - You Don't Miss Your Water - Stax/Volt:The Complete Collection
8. Otis Redding - I've Got Dreams - Otis! The Definitive Otis Redding Collection
9. Eddie Floyd - I Stand Accused - Knock on Wood
10. Wilson Pickett - Bring It on Home to Me - I'm in Love
11. Fenton Robinson - Texas Flood - Somebody Loan Me a Dime
12. B.B. King - Worry, Worry, Worry - Live In Cook County Jail

If you missed the show or you would like to hear it again feel free to click here. This link will take you to the site where you can stream any WSUM show as well as my own.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Scofield Gets Around!!!

John Scofield is a fantastic jazz guitar player who got his start in 1974 playing on Gary Mark's debut album, "Gathering." Since then, Scofield has gone on to play with some of the biggest names in modern music from Phil Lesh to Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. Below are a few sonically pleasing cuts featuring John Scofield and some of the greats of jazz and funk.

This collaboration is one that I just discovered today. It features John Scofield as a guest guitarist for Jaco Pastorius on his tune "The Chicken," off of the album Stuggart Aria. This cut also features some very funky drumming from Kenwood Dennard. The video comes from a 1985 instructional bass playing video. All I can say is that this jam is HOT.

Both of these jams are Scofield playing with drummer Billy Cobham (of Mahavishnu Orchestra fame)and they are taken from videos of their 1976 tour. Other notable players on these cuts are George Duke and Alphonso Johnson (Weater Report, Jazz is Dead...) In the video above, the band is playing a tune called Hip Pockets, while below they are playing Red Baron. Both are songs composed by Billy Cobham. Also, Red Baron is sampled by multiple Hip Hop artists including Common on the track "Two Scoops of Raisins."

If you like any of the above Billy Cobham material, the following are Cobham albums that you should most definitely check out:

Spectrum (Atlantic, 1973)
A Funky Thide of Sings (Atlantic, 1975) (Featuring John Scofield)
"LIVE" On Tour in Europe (Atlantic, 1976) (This one features the band you see and hear above. The group is called the Billy Cobham and George Duke Band)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Anthony Hamilton

I discovered this guy by accident when I was going through the American Gangster soundtrack. Hearing his tunes (almost) renews my faith in popular music. His sound is very much like a more modern Marvin Gaye or Donny Hathaway.

This is an original song called "Charlene" which sounds a lot like Marvin Gaye's style of music during the What's Goin On era. It should also be noted that the backup singers are singing the hook to the Chi Lites classic "Have You Seen Her" at various points in the song.

This one is from the American Gangster soundtrack and it's called "Do You Feel Me." The backing band on this one is the Dap Kings although they really sound like they could be straight out of Memphis in 1967. This track has a vintage vibe to it and is reminiscent of the classic Stax sides of the mid to late 60s.

Just Getting Started

In the future I hope to post the playlists and any other relevant information from my radio shows on here. I will also periodically make posts about new tunes that I have found and think you should hear.