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Thursday, 21 August 2014


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I would like to put forward the 'lost' recording of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here that resurfaced in 2011, featuring Stephane Grappelli. The violinist happened to be in an adjoining studio and was invited to improvise on the track. Once you hear this version, you won't want to go back to the original!


Track (also on Spotify, I think):

"but Merry Clayton's vocal turn on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" is also a special and eternal amazement. "

There are two other great guest vocal performances similar to the above. One on Avalon by Roxy Music. I gather the female artist happened to be recording in the next studio and did her contribution in one take. The other one I can think of is on the Great Gig in the Sky by Pink Floyd but I know nothing about the recording of that track.

One of my favourite Star Turns has always been Eric Clapton on Phil Collins' "I wish it would rain down"

Especially the music video is very funny.

And I remember once watching the recording of a Clapton concert, and guess who was playing the drums?

Not quite what you had in mind, and I hope I remember it right. Back when I was in graduate school in Melbourne , Australia in the 1980s, both Dire Straits and Dylan were touring at the same time. Apparently Dylan turned up and helped perform in the Dire Straits concert.

As you probably know, Kurt Edward Fishback is the son of Glen Fishback, a well known and much-published photographer from the 1930s to the 1970s. He devised a very practical exposure system for black and white photography (it was an improvement on the Zone system, IMO). I still have the booklet around somewhere, I think. He also popularized the use of C-76 (D-76 developer with Crone additive) and established a school of photography.

I really miss the days when black and white photography was enshrouded in multiple levels of mystique. Seems like things were more fun back then. Or maybe it's just because I was younger.

I would not object to an update on the new TOP headquarters. A photo or two would be well received.

In case it hasn't already been asked for, how about an update on Xander's summer project? Is he the one who enabled the relocation of TOP World Headquarters? ;)

Sorry to be equally ancient, but the most satisfying "star turn" for me is actually related to the Merry Clayton mention. I'd say Clare Torry on Pink Floyd's 'Great Gig in the Sky' is a studio backup singer turning into the star of the song (and eventually getting her due as co-writer).

Famous people backing up other famous people is less interesting to me...

Prince was on Kate Bush's The Red Shoes album. Somewhat topical as I'll be at her London show in September.

In connection with her appearance in the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, Merry Clayton and Morgan Neville were interviewed by Terry Gross for her NPR program, Fresh Air. I found it, and her, quite interesting ... check it out.

Mel Tormé’s live recording of a concert at Marty’s in New York in 1977 includes a duet with Janis Ian (“Society’s Child” and “At Seventeen”). The song is “Silly Habits,” penned by Ian, and the recorded performance was nominated for a “Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group” Grammy in 1978.

The most impressive guest appearance I have ever heard is Trevor Smith's (a/k/a Busta Rhymes) performance on the song "Scenario" by A Tribe Called Quest from their album "The Low End Theory". Yes, it is hip-hop. But for someone interested in jazz, A Tribe Called Quest is one of the best introductions to hip-hop imaginable. In any case, this is hardly recent (the album was released in 1991), but Smith's performance still dazzles. His solo starts with the following:

Watch as I combine all the juice from the mind
Heel up, wheel up, bring it back, come rewind
Powerful impact (Boom!) from the cannon!
Not braggin', try to read my mind, just imagine...

For a more recent example (and one likely to be closer to your musical sensibilities), check out Kimbra's guest performance on the song "Somebody That I Used to Know" from Gotye's album "Making Mirrors". The excellent video is available here.

Best regards,

I'm a fossil, too--all I can think of is Duane Allman's celebrated contributions on Derek and the Dominos' only album. Oh, and for more recent fossil-age stuff, there's also Imogene Heap's amazing vocals on two tracks of Jeff Beck's "Live at Ronnie Scott's" just a couple of years ago. And, wait, Kate Pierson of the B-52's helping make REM's "Shiny Happy People" an instant classic.

I think in most of these examples we touch on the fuzzy area between guesting and collaborating.

Really enjoying these "Morning Coffee" posts (I don't get upset if you have to miss a day--I'm just grateful you're keeping up posting interesting stuff while you're moving). I hope the move is going well!

Ronnie Ross' glorious baritone saxophone envoi on Walk on the Wild Side (for which I believe he was paid 9 pounds by the producer, David Bowie).

If you are "ancient" then I must be antediluvian.

Larry Carlton's opening guitar solo on Steely Dan's "Don't Take Me Alive" from the album "The Royal Scam" fits your category and blows me away every time I hear it. I am sure that there are many examples in Steely Dan's recordings as they used "outside" studio virtuosos, many from the jazz world, on all of them.

Raphael Ravenscroft's sax solo on Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" also comes to mind.

My "star turns" are equally as ancient as yours, but one of my all time favorites was Eric Clapton's guitar work on The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Slightly more recently, I would also throw out Sting's backing vocals on Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing."

On of my favorite collaborations is KD Lang's appearance on Madeleine Peyroux's "Half the Perfect World". They do Joni Mitchell's "River". Peyroux has a voice reminiscent of Billie Holiday and Lang's voice drips honey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQiadVNWTFI

Star turns: County singer and song writer Billy Joe Shaver wrote "Old Five and Dimers Like Me." Terrific song. It was covered by Bob Dylan, and a pick-up band. In the pick-up band were Eric Clapton and Ronnie Wood...

(Billy Joe once shot a man named Billy Bryant Coker in Lorena, Texas; two songs were written about the incident -- "Whacko from Waco" by Billy Joe himself, and "Where Do You Want It," by Dale Watson, recorded by Whitey Morgan and the 78s. Billy Joe was charged with ag assault but acquitted on grounds of self-defense. (Of course he was; this was in Texas.) According to the Wikipedia, in an August 2014 NPR interview Billy Joe said he shot Coker because he was "Such a bully" and that "I hit him right between a mother and a f-cker. That was the end of that. He dropped his weapons and said, 'I'm sorry.' And I said, 'Well, if you had said that inside, there would have been no problem.' ")

I have a lot of opening phrases that I like:

The Cars on Heartbeat City (the last track on the album of that name)

Ry Cooder on Memo For Turner on Mick Jagger's 'Performance' Album

Tom Petty on A Face In The Crowd

I could go on.

Fellow fossil here.

I'm thinking Charlie McCoy's Spanish-inflected guitar throughout Bob Dylan's Desolation Row and Ronnie Ross's sax solo at the end of Lou Reed's Walk On The Wild Side.

Speaking of Pink Floyd and Dark Side of the Moon, one might grant star-turn status to recording engineer Alan Parsons, who is also credited with recruiting Clare Torry.

Christmas is a ways away but I can't help thinking of Kirsty MacColl dueting with Shane MacGowan on the Pogue's Fairy Tale of New York.

I rather like Slick Rick's guest verse on Mos Def's "Auditorium".


Bonnie Raitt's harmony vocals and beautifully understated slide guitar on Bruce Cockburn's "The Whole Night Sky" from his "The Charity of Night" album. That woman is a monument to good taste.

Dear Mike,

Speaking about “star turns”, I think it would be appropriate to mention Tina Turner and the Ikettes appearance on Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Inventions’ albums “Over Nite Sensation” and “Apostrophe (‘)” –although this stuff dates back from 1973, which also categorizes me as a fossil.

At the time, Frank Zappa was recording his albums with the Mothers of Invention at the “Bolic Sounds” studio in Inglewood, Los Angeles. The studio was the property of Ike Turner, so Zappa ask Ike to hire Tina Turner and the Ikettes for the backing vocals on the albums. Ike agreed but he insisted that Zappa should pay the singers, including Tina Turner, no more than $25 per song.

It is reported that after the recording sessions, Tina Turner told Ike how difficult it was to sing the vocal line on “Montana”. Ike asked to listen to the song, then he said: “What’s this sh*t?” and refused to allow for the Ikettes to be credited on the albums…



PS: Good luck with the moving!

The Downton Abbey photoshop "fix" almost made me snort my coffee out my nose.

I don't know if it's just me but on my screen I can see shoes in the bottom left of the K. Fishback picture.
Do I need to recalibrate?

Sandy Denny was the only guest vocalist on a Led Zeppelin album. She sang counterpoint to Robert Plant on "The Battle of Evermore" from Zeppelin's iconic fourth album. Ms. Denny makes that song.

You will write about anything, eh?
So how did the gruel and grass diet work out for you?

Yet another ancient star turn I was just thinking about yesterday - Bud Shank's flute solo on "California Dreamin'" by The Mamas and the Papas.

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