Monthly Archives: July 2009

More Electric Pianos

webHohner-Clavinet-02

Jordy’s excellent post on the Wurlitzer electric piano inspired me to post a few of my favorite songs that feature various electric pianos.  Click the album titles to buy the referenced albums.

Stevie Wonder -“Higher Ground” from Innervisions (1973)

Featuring Stevie Wonder on the Hohner Clavinet and every other instrument in the song.  Seriously, he plays everything.

Here is another Stevie Wonder classic featuring perhaps the baddest (by which I mean the best) Clavinet riff known to Man:

Led Zeppelin – “Trampled Under Foot” from Physical Graffiti (1975)

Featuring John Paul Jones on the Clavinet.

The Band – “Up On Cripple Creek” from The Band (1969)

Featuring Garth Hudson on the Clavinet with wah-wah pedal.  I wanted to include this one because the wah-wah makes it especially interesting.

The Doors – “Riders On The Storm” from L.A. Woman (1971)

Featuring Ray Manzarek on the Fender Rhodes.  Since the Doors did not have a bass player, Manzarek normally played the basslines with his left hand on a Rhodes Bass Piano while playing melodies on a Vox Continental organ, but here he goes with the full-blown Rhodes and turns out a great solo.

Check out this video for a look at Manzarek’s usual setup, a blistering organ solo, and Jim Morrison’s likely drug-fueled stage antics.

Posted by Adam

6 Comments

Filed under 1960s, 1970s, Funk, Live, Psychedelic, Rock, Video

Wurlitzer piano favorites

wurlitzer

Few instruments play melancholia like the famed Wurlitzer Electronic Piano. Its touching tremolo is often overlooked but always critical to whatever tune employs it. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

-Neil Young – “See the Sky About to Rain” from On the Beach (1974) [buy]

Neil brings the piano to the center of this song, often sending Ben Keith’s slide guitar to the side. Nevertheless, they complement each other very well.

-Kris Kristofferson – “Epitaph (Black and Blue)” from The Silver Tongued Devil and I (1971)

This song inspired the post. The Wurlitzer is probably meant to lend a more funereal mood as if it wasn’t morbid enough with the vocal and string arrangements. (Buy this album. Fans of John Prine, take note.)

-Wilco – “Jesus, Etc.” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) [buy]

Leave it to Wilco, classicists that they are, to prop the Wurlitzer up in the modern era.  Its use here is primarily as a rhythm instrument under all the strings and plucking. It doesn’t so much sing as propel the song. A lot like Supertramp might use it. Did somebody mention Supertramp?! Man, that was a great band… like Boston, but not as loud and better.

-Supertramp – “The Logical Song” from Breakfast in America (1979) [buy]

The piano is the spine of this song and, indeed, much of the album. How about that sax solo halfway through? That’s killer. What a slick song, eh?

Any other examples you’d care to cite?

*Update (7-30-09): Adam brings up the Fender Rhodes piano, which certainly has its place among the great gear of the 60s and 70s.  The Rhodes’ sound is a bit sharper and jazzier than the Wurlitzer.  I usually associate it with Bitches Brew as played by the late, great Joe Zawinul.  See Glenn’s homage and hear the Rhodes in action.  Also hear Zawinul and Jan Hammer in two different fusion outfits featuring the Rhodes.

As for rock, Pink Floyd owed a lot of its sound on Dark Side to the Rhodes.  Also, see the intro to “Sheep” from 1977’s Animals.

Posted by Jordy

9 Comments

Filed under 1970s, 1990s, 2000s, Rock

“I don’t know karate, but I know ka-razy”


I’ve been listening to a shit-ton of James Brown lately and have been captivated by Brown’s on-record bandleading.  While the grooves are lean and funky, Brown improvises widely and effortlessly above it all, calling out horn breaks and bridges to his band.  “The Payback” is a great example of how the Godfather worked his craft in the studio (“I need those hits!”).

James Brown – “The Payback” from The Payback (1973)

Buy the Payback

Posted by Jordy

29 Comments

Filed under 1970s, Funk, Soul

a little more Curtis

A while back, I mentioned that I thought Curtis Mayfield an unsung musical genius. Turns out the man is plenty sung, not least by Kayne West, who sampled Mayfield’s excellent “Move On Up” in his less-excellent-though-still-good “Touch The Sky”:

Curtis Mayfield – “Move On Up” from Curtis (1970)
Kayne West – “Touch The Sky (feat. Lupe Fiasco)” from Late Registration (2005)

Not sick of that horn riff yet? Check out the Jam covering it here, and Curtis himself bongo-jammin’ it here, sans horns.

Earlier I had posted one of Mayfield’s classics from his famous Superfly soundtrack, “Little Child Runnin’ Wild.” Here is a demo version, a little less ominous, featuring fewer chord changes and a brighter groove:

Curtis Mayfield – “Ghetto Child (Demo Version)” from Curtis reissue (org. 1970ish)

Finally, here’s a classic from the group that gave Curtis Mayfield his start, and for which he did some of his most beautiful writing:

The Impressions – “You Must Believe Me” from People Get Ready (1965)

Have a funkdafied weekend, y’all.

Buy Curtis Mayfield here

Posted by Glenn

3 Comments

Filed under 1960s, 1970s, 2000s, Funk, Hip-Hop, Pop, Soul

“I can and well just might turn you on”

photo from last years SWR employee picnic

photo from last year's SWR employee picnic

Funkadelic – “Funky Dollar Bill” from Free Your Mind…And Your Ass Will Follow (1970)
Funkadelic – “Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On” from Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On (1974)

Funkadelic was batshit crazy. And it wasn’t just George Clinton: his top-notch sidemen and singers were as into the weird as the Supreme Maggot Minister himself. These two jams attest to that. On “Funky Dollar Bill,” check Eddie Hazel’s brain-melt guitar tone and acid casulty Lucius “Tawl” Ross’s unhinged singing. Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins sings on “Standing On The Verge,” a mutha-funkin’ masterpiece.

What gets me about Funkadelic is that behind their UFO-psych jamming are tight, inventive vocal arrangments. Mixed differently, a lot of this stuff could be pop. But the Parliafunkadelicment Thang would never let you off the hook so easily, now would they?

Told ya my next post would be cooler.

Mommy, what’s a Funkadelic? (buy it here)

Posted by Glenn

3 Comments

Filed under 1970s, Funk, Psychedelic, Rock, Soul, Space rock

This may well be the dorkiest song ever posted to this blog

Fields of Gold

Sting – “Fields Of Gold” from Ten Summoner’s Tales (1993)

On Sunday evening, I was driving through west Michigan and scanning through radio stations when this song came on. I had spent a wonderful weekend with old friends; the sun was setting over rolling soybean and corn fields (no barley, far as I could tell); the gentle lilt of this tune bowled me over. It’s a great melody.

Give it a listen if you haven’t ever. It’s a tasteful, non-pompous song. This guy is way better than those other adult contemporary bozos.

My next post will be way cooler, promise, okay?

You know, Sting used to be kind of cool once

Buy it here, if you’re so inclined

Posted by Glenn

2 Comments

Filed under 1990s, Pop, Singer-Songwriter

One of the best bass lines ever

“Afternoon Tea” by the Kinks from Something Else (1967)

Come to think of it, every single track on this album is worth its own post. I’m just sayin’, is all.

Buy Everything Else by the Kinks

More Kinks at SWR

Posted by Jordy

1 Comment

Filed under 1960s, Rock