Tonight on The Midnight Tracker, a double shot.
Why? We missed posting last month. However, this blog is so lightly traveled that no one wrote to ask about it. Also so lightly traveled that our host has deleted some of the uploads. So it goes …
First up, a side from the guy who wrote a song made popular by Eric Clapton. It was the success of “After Midnight” that prompted a friend to tell J.J. Cale he ought to record his own stuff.
So, over the course of a week in late September and early October 1970, the 31-year-old Cale went into a couple of studios in the Nashville area and recorded most of “Naturally.” It was pretty much an indie record, put out on Shelter Records.
There was nothing hurried about the album’s release — it came out at the end of 1971 — and there’s nothing hurried about the songs on Side 2, which we have for you tonight. These laid-back cuts are flavored with R&B, country and soul — what has come to be known as the Tulsa sound. Cale wrote all 12 cuts on “Naturally.”
Side 2 opens with “Crazy Mama,” which in 1972 became Cale’s biggest hit. He also offers his version of “After Midnight,” which he’d done first as a demo in 1966. The fifth cut, “Bringing It Back,” was covered by Kansas on its debut album.
“Crazy Mama,” “Nowhere To Run,” “After Midnight,” “River Runs Deep,” “Bringing It Back” and “Crying Eyes,” J.J. Cale, from “Naturally,” 1971. This is Side 2. It runs 15:53.
(Side 1 opens with “Call Me The Breeze,” made popular by Lynyrd Skynyrd.)
The second half of tonight’s double shot is another side from a guy just getting started.
Billy Preston was 19 and Sly Stone was 22 when they got together in Los Angeles in September 1965 to work on Preston’s third solo album. These young cats had similar backgrounds, born in Texas and steeped in gospel music while growing up in California.
Preston, by then already a master of the Hammond B-3 organ, had cut two albums that consisted mostly of covers. That was a popular strategy at the time — pairing new artists with familiar tunes, or simply goosing sales with familiar tunes.
Eight of the 12 cuts on that third album, “Wildest Organ In Town!,” are covers. Three of the other four tunes were co-written by Preston and Stone, who was the arranger on the record. They’re on Side 2, which we have for you tonight.
“Advice” opens the side, its lyrics — “I want to take you higher” — foreshadowing what was to come from Sly and the Family Stone. “It’s Got To Happen” relies mostly on organ, piano and drums to create a quick little dance scorcher. “Free Funk” isn’t free funk but rather a slow, graceful, gospel-inspired bit.
“Advice,” “Satisfaction,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “It’s Got To Happen,” “Free Funk” and “The In Crowd,” Billy Preston, from “Wildest Organ In Town!,” 1966. This is Side 2. It runs 14:40. Those are Rolling Stones, James Brown and Dobie Gray covers wrapped around the Preston-Stone originals.
(The buy link is to a double CD that also includes “Club Meeting,” a 1967 album recorded during the same September 1965 sessions.)