All Mixed Up (And Boxed In)
When a Facebook friend sent a Dropbox link to a mixtape called San Francisco Dues, I just had to explore what it was all about. San Francisco Dues is a Chuck Berry album that was released 40 years ago and any mixtape that evokes Berry needs to be given a listen to post haste! So I wasted no time in downloading the mixtape and to my most pleasant surprise, it turned out to be a bonanza. But before that, a bit about Dropbox. Do you use it? I’ve just started and I can’t stop raving about this most convenient way to ferry your files to wherever you want on whatever device you like or happen to have with you. In more technical terms it is a Web-based file hosting service that uses cloud computing to enable users to store and share files and folders across multiple devices as well as with other people.
Okay, 80-word plug (sans any honorarium) on Dropbox over, here’s what I found on the aforementioned mixtape: a total of 105 tracks. Yes, 105. It’s put together by a chap who goes by the name of Goodboy who quite clearly lives up to that moniker (but more on that in just a bit).
The 1971 San Francisco Dues album had a particularly rakish photograph of one of modern music’s most influential rock and rollers on the cover, complete with wild hair and all. It had 10 tracks, including the title track, San Francisco Dues. Berry, who’ll turn 85 in October, still tours. And simply put, he is synonymous with rock and roll. Famously, John Lennon once said “if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry”.
But I digress from Goodboy’s mixtape that dropped into my collection via Facebook. The high point of the compilation is its length – 105 tracks is a lot of songs. And yes, Chuck Berry’s SF Dues is on it. But so are so many gems by so many greats. The familiar ones include the Everly Brothers, blues-rocker Lonnie Mack, Muddy Waters (his You Gonna Need My Help comes pretty high up on the playlist) and Mike Bloomfield. Even Paul McCartney marks his presence with Mama’s Little Girl. But it is the rare ones that I really enjoyed. Remember Neil Young’s one-time band, Crazy Horse? They’re there doing a track called Dirty, Dirty. So is Dave Mason (the British singer and guitarist who is best known for his psychedelic folk-rock and for his stint with the rock band, Traffic). Mason’s Shouldn’t Have Took More Than You Gave showcases his unique vocal style on Goodboy’s mixtape.
Much of the mixtape is bluesy. You have Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker and you have BB King. But you also have familiar songs covered by not so familiar names. Sometimes it is the original you never heard. Heard Steppenwolf’s The Pusher or Blind Melon’s version of it? Well, the original is by country music singer Hoyt Axton and that’s the version you get on the Dropboxed mixtape.
Bluesy, I said, but it’s not all blues. There’s soul, folk and funk. And lots and lots of psychedelic rock. Remember Arthur Lee’s band, Love? Or Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band? Or Funkadelic? If you grew up in the Seventies or wish you had, you’ll have a ball. Many of the bands are from California, a hat-tip no doubt to Berry’s album title, but several of the songs are by people from all over.
I’d say Goodboy’s mixtape is replete with goodness. And bands that you may have missed. You may have heard Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys but what about The Louvin Brothers, The Delmore Brothers or The Wallace Brothers? I hadn’t heard of any of these and – after sampling them – I thought that had been such a shame.