Leaps n Bands #13: Rory Gallagher – Walk on hot coals

The Story so far (1974) – side 1, track 3

The Jemverse ‘Leaps n Bands’ series is, throughout 2020, featuring a track by track expose of the albums that have spoken loudest to me over the years. And ‘loud’ is very definitely appropriate to my second part of the series – Rory Gallager’s ‘The Story so far’ from 1974.

This is a best of compilation featuring 8 tracks selected from six albums released between 1971 and 1974.

Side 1, track 3 is Walk on hot coals, the opening track from the 1973 album ‘Blueprint’

Leaps n Bands #12: Rory Gallagher – Cradle Rock

The Story so far (1974): side 1, track 2

The Jemverse ‘Leaps n Bands’ series is, throughout 2020, featuring a track by track expose of the albums that have spoken loudest to me over the years. And ‘loud’ is very definitely appropriate to my second part of the series – Rory Gallager’s ‘The Story so far’ from 1974.

This is a best of compilation featuring 8 tracks selected from six albums released between 1971 and 1974.

Side 1, track 2 is Cradle Rock from the 1973 album ‘Tattoo’

Leaps n Bands #11: Rory Gallagher’s ‘The Story so far’ (1974): side 1, track 1 – “Laundromat”

The Jemverse ‘Leaps n Bands’ series is, throughout 2020, featuring a track by track expose of the albums that have spoken loudest to me over the years. And ‘loud’ is very definitely appropriate to my second part of the series – Rory Gallager’s ‘The Story so far’ from 1974.

This is a best of compilation featuring 8 tracks selected from six albums released between 1971 and 1974. Side one kicks off with ‘Laundromat’ from his self-titled debut, released in February 1971.

After disbanding his previous band ‘Taste’, Gallagher auditioned some of the best musicians available at the time including Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell the bassist and drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He decided on two Belfast musicians; drummer Wilgar Campbell, and bass guitarist Gerry McAvoy to be the core of his new power trio band.

Laundromat is a blues rock song with a classic Gallagher riff. It was inspired by the public laundromat located in the basement of his flat where he lived at the time in London’s Earls Court.

Leaps n Bands #10: Rory Gallagher – the story so far: side 2 track 4: “Bullfrog Blues” (1974)

The Jemverse ‘Leaps n Bands’ series is, throughout 2020, featuring a track by track expose of the albums that have spoken loudest to me over the years. And ‘loud’ is very definitely appropriate to my second part of the series – Rory Gallager’s ‘The Story so far’ from 1974.

There’ll be more about the album itself between 21 January and 2 February, but I’m kickstarting things in reverse order with the last track on side 2 and the reason for my buying the album in the first place – Bullfrog Blues.

At the back end of the 1970’s I was an art student in Sussex. My best mate Josse lived in the small town of Arundel and, as we were more or less inseparable, and he had an attic bedroom far away from his parents, I was at his house most the time.

In the summer of 1978 Josse’s next door neighbours went away on a business trip leaving their sons – James and Richard – home alone. One word came to mind – ‘Party’! And it was a cracker. There was beer in barrels (first time I’d seen that), lots of brilliant music and lots of bleary eyes and sore heads the next day.

I guess Josse and I must have left sometime in the early hours to crash in his attic bedroom. But we were still up and about by eight. And what better way to dust off the cobwebs than with some good tunes turned up loud? Josse had an old Dansette mono record player on the floor in the corner into which he’d jerry-rigged a couple of large speakers. And the first record to hit the deck that morning was Rory Gallagher’s ‘Bullfrog Blues’.

It had a profound effect on me. Not just down to the volume which, in that smallish attic loft space, was close to deafening. But also because of the solid 12-bar blues played in a far more ruthless and free-er way than I’d heard up to then. I wanted more. And boy did I get some!

Much later on the morning following the party, Josse and I were knocking on James’s and Richard’s front door to invite them down to the pub. But on opening the door, James came very close to thumping Josse in the eye.

“Bullfrog bleeding blues at eight o’clock this morning, you b******s!” was shouted – or words to that effect – followed by a slammed door and a smaller pub contingent that we’d been expecting. They followed soon after though and it was friends again. But there was a fraught moment there for a while.

You see, Josse’s attic room was built into the roof eaves and part of it extended directly over James’s bedroom where he and quite a number of others from the party were crashing. So, when we’d put on ‘Bullfrog Blues’ and turned the volume up to 11 earlier, they’d all heard it just as loud as we had but with extra bass amplified through the floor!

I brought ‘The story so far’ – Rory Gallagher’s 1974 best of compilation album – that same week, some four years after its release but since, over the intervening 40+ years, played more times than I can tell. And ‘Bullfrog Blues’ has been played more than most.

Leaps n Bands #9: Led Zeppelin IV – side two, track four: When the levee breaks (1971)


For this first part of the new Jemtunes series for 2010 – Leaps n Bands – I’m taking you through a track by track expose of Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth studio album commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV. Today concludes that with side 2, track 4 – When the levee breaks.

Thus was originally a country blues song written and first recorded by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in 1929. The lyrics reflect experiences during the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. The flooding affected 26,000 square miles of the Mississippi Delta – hundreds were killed and hundreds of thousands of residents were forced to evacuate.

Ethel Douglas, Minnie’s sister-in-law, recalled that Minnie was living with her family near Walls, Mississippi, when the levee broke in 1927. The song’s lyrics recount the personal toll on a man who lost his home and family.

McCoy and Minnie recorded “When the Levee Breaks” during their first session for Columbia Records in New York City on June 18, 1929. The song features McCoy on vocals and rhythm guitar. Minnie, the more accomplished guitarist of the two, provided the embellishments using a finger picked-style in a Spanish or open G tuning.

Columbia issued the song on the then-standard 78 rpm phonograph record, with “That Will Be Alright”, another vocal performance by McCoy, on the flip-side in August or June 1929.

When considering material for the group to record for their untitled 4th album, Robert Plant had suggested the Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie song and the band decided to place it as the albums’ final track. Jimmy Page developed a new guitar riff that set it apart but John Bonham’s drumming defines the characteristic of the song.

Page and John Paul Jones based their guitar and bass lines on the original. However, they did not follow its twelve-bar blues I–IV–V–I structure, but instead used a one-chord approach to give it a droning sound. Plant used many of the lyrics, but took a different melodic approach. He also added a harmonica part which as a result of the backward echo effect during the mix, the echo is heard ahead of the source.

John Bonham’s drumming, played on a Ludwig kit, was recorded in the lobby of Headley Grange using two Beyerdynamic M 160 microphones which were hung up a flight of stairs; output from these were passed to a pair of Helios F760 compressor/limiters. A Binson Echorec, a delay effects unit, was also used.

Portions of the song were recorded at a different tempo, then slowed down, explaining the “sludgy” sound, particularly on the harmonica and guitar solos. It was the only song on the album that was mixed at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California (the rest being remixed in London).

A new “Leaps n Bands” album review starts on Jemtunes on 19 January.

Leaps n Bands #8: Led Zeppelin IV – side two, track three – Going to California (1971)


For this first part of the new Jemtunes series for 2010 – Leaps n Bands – I’m taking you through a track by track expose of Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth studio album commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV.

Side 2, track 3 is Going to California with Robert Plant on lead vocals, acoustic guitar by Jimmy Page and mandolin by John Paul Jones, a song written when Jimmy Page, audio engineer Andy Johns and band manager Peter Grant had travelled to Los Angeles to mix Led Zeppelin IV and coincidentally experienced a minor earthquake.

Initially titled “Guide to California”, the band changed ‘guide’ to ‘going’ just prior to the album’s production.

The band’s first live performance of the song was on their Spring 1971 tour of the United Kingdom. One live version, from Led Zeppelin’s performance at Earls Court in 1975, is featured on disc 2 of the Led Zeppelin DVD and again on the Mothership DVD. The song was also performed at all shows on Led Zeppelin’s mammoth 1977 US tour.

Robert Plant played it during his solo tours in 1988/1989, at the Knebworth Silver Clef show in 1990 and again on his Mighty ReArranger tour, with additions of a double bass and a synthesizer.

A different version of this song is featured on the second disc of the remastered 2CD deluxe edition of Led Zeppelin IV. This version, known as “Going to California (Mandolin/Guitar Mix),” is an instrumental recorded on January 29, 1971, with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio at Headley Grange with engineer Andy Johns. This mix runs to 3:34, while the original version runs to 3:32.

Leaps n Bands #7: Led Zeppelin IV – side 2, track 2: Four Sticks (1971)

For this first part of the new Jemtunes series for 2010 – Leaps n Bands – I’m taking you through a track by track expose of Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth studio album commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV.

Track 2 on side 2 is “Four Sticks”, named quite simply because John Bonham plays the drum pattern that runs throughout the track using four drumdsticks.

It has a very unusual time signature with riffs in both of 5/8 and 6/8 time. So it was therefore not only difficult to play but also to record, requiring multiple takes. Four Sticks was only played live once by the band.