Sunday, January 08, 2012

"Fooled Around And Fell In Love"

One of the pitfalls of being a Rock Snob is that you really think you know it all. And when you combine that with a gadfly mind in which every field of your knowledge is an inch deep and a mile wide, there is so much scope for error.
For example, if someone were to bring up the topic of the mid sixties flourish of progressive music, I'd jump right in and start yammering on about obscure releases on the Harvest label, not having done the requisite research to know that Harvest was only launched in 1969, or that prog rock really only took off around the same time. More than once I've wished I could crawl into a hole and die as my utter amateurism was ruthlessly exposed. There may actually be some bands or genres where I know my stuff, but as time and experience have passed, I've learned to be circumspect about claiming any expertise. Still doesn't stop me from making a total fool of myself from time to time.
This song has always been familiar to me: it's a staple on radio in the States, it's got a fantastic white soul vocal, a fantastic guitar solo, and it just swings oerfectly. I love the fact that it starts as if it's going to be something vaguely middle of the road, something easy, until the voice joins in and we're taken to another plane. The harmonies, the Hammond organ, it's all perfect.
So for the last 35 years I've always thought that Elvin Bishop was one of the great lost vocal talents of our times. On this record he sounds like Paul Rodgers' long-lost twin brother; just like Rodgers, he pushes his voice just to the point where it's about to fall apart, but no further, in exactly the way Rod Stewart didn't. Not that I dislike Stewart's voice - but they're different instruments.
Back to the Rock Snobbism. Imagine my surprise when in preparing to blog this song, I discover that Elvin Bishop's the guitarist, and that Mickey Thomas is the singer. You getting some heat from the screen as you're reading this? That's nothing to the heat coming off my cheeks, let me tell you.
Anyway, I put two and two together and went off in search of my copy of Jefferson Starship's "Freedom At Point Zero" album, where Mickey Thomas sings on "Jane" and Lord, his voice is just as good there. Maybe he's been to the requisite hard rock singer school where they teach you to reach those really high notes (think Ian Gillan on "Child in Time" from the "Made in Japan" album - dogs will come running), and maybe he's lost a little of the soul that he has on "Fooled Around", but it is so clearly the same voice. And you can also see how Mickey Thomas made such a good replacement for Grace Slick.
Sorry. I'm meant to be blogging a song, but it seems now that I'm doing a Mickey Thomas appreciation. Take a look at his page on and look at the artists he's performed with. Perversely, I sort of wish he'd tarted himself around a bit more; there are so many songs I can imagine he'd have sung so well.

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