Wednesday, June 25, 2008

(part 81) "WORKING" THE 1968 SESSIONS

The musicians on the "Working" sessions in 1968 were Mike Deasy fuzz guitar, Jerry Scheff bass, Toxi French drums, Ben Benay guitar, harmoica, and arranger, James Burton dobro guitar, Red Rhodes steel guitar.

Strings and horns, Sid Sharp, Bill Kurdsch, Leonard Malarsky, Harold Dickrow, Tibor Zelig, Jesse Ehrlich, Armond Kaproff, Israel Baker, Nathan Gershman, Bobby Bruce, Ray Kelley, Jerry Grant, James Horn, Roy Catron, Olie Mitchell and Dick Hyde.

The arrangers were Sid Feller, Ben Benay, and Mike Hendersen. Produced by Steve Clark, engineered by Fred Borkgren, and recorded at Bob Ross's Harmony Recording Studio in Hollywood. Piano and vocals by Bobby Jameson.

Jimmy Rees's "Ain't That Lovin You Baby" and Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" were arranged by Mike Hendersen who played sax on "Jenny" from "Color Him In." The "New Orleans" string and horn arrangements for those two songs are similar to the arrangements of Bob Dylan's "Everybody Must Get Stoned".

The vocal I did on "Ain't That Lovin You Baby" is a flat out half drunken rendition of the song, that if nothing else gets your attention. "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" is a bit more relaxed, but again is colored with the fact that I was pretty well wrecked when I recorded both of these songs.

The vocals give a lot, and are lacking a lot simultaneously. They are live recordings and not overdubbed, so they don't have the control factor of rerecording each vocal till it's perfect. The quality is more like a stage performance than a studio recording.

Some people hate this album for that reason. The vocals on "Palo Alto," "Bout Being Young," and "Broken Windows" are far more controlled, and have more of a studio quality about them. "Palo Alto" was a song I wrote about my mother, and the fact that I didn't believe we knew each other too well, and I wondered if we ever would.

I placed the lyrics in a "what if" situation regarding life and death, and questioned whether anything would ever change. "Palo Alto" was arranged by Sid Feller who also did the arrangements for "Gentle On My Mind" and "Bout Being Young."

"To Ramona" was the fourth song arranged by Sid Feller, and I have already stated it did not make the album. That was a choice by GRT Records executive Ron Cramer, who decided the album was too long. GRT stands for General Recorded Tape. It is the label that released "Working" in 1969.

Sid Feller had done arranging for Ray Charles in the past, but I was not satisfied with his work. I felt that he over arranged the songs, and think they'd have been better, if they were leaner in the overly lavish string and horn arrangements. Once again I was not in enough control of the album to have a say about this at the time of the recording.

I am of the belief that my vocal on "Gentle On My Mind" is one of my best efforts, and wish the arrangement was more like a Jimmy Webb arrangement. Sometimes, less is more, when it is used surgically. Sid's arrangements were overbearing at times, and fought with what I was doing vocally.

On the other hand, everything but my voice and piano was overdubbed, so I guess it was hard for them to write their arrangements after the fact, as opposed to before, which I know they were used to doing. It was the only way I could get the songs recorded the way I wanted though, so on one hand it works, on the other it doesn't. The one thing I can say about "Working" is, that I could sit down at the piano and play the whole damn album the same way it was recorded, and that was not the case with "Color Him In."

"Gentle On My Mind"