June 28, 2008

From the vaults: The Stones & Papa John Phillips

Previously on Fuel/Friends, we talked a bit about the cool sessions that Mick Jagger recorded with John Lennon during the so-called “Lost Weekend.” Another interesting moment in Stones-related history comes out of their eponymous record label which was launched in 1976. The first solo artist signed to the imprint was Papa John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas.

Recording sessions grew out of a conversation that Phillips had with Jagger during a long weekend of cricket matches in Old Trafford, England in late summer 1976. Back at their hotel, Phillips took out his guitar and showed Jagger some of the material he had been working on. “You really ought to do an album with all these tunes, man,” Jagger said, “They’re great.” Phillips replied, “I’ll make you a deal – if you produce it, I’ll record it.” It was agreed that they would start recording the following week.

Phillips had initially thought Jagger was joking, but 10 days later they were together at Olympic Sound Studios in London with Jagger producing a first track. Among the musicians present were Ron Wood on bass, Mick Taylor and Keith Richards on guitar, and Jagger himself on backing vocals. There was a great synergy present at the sessions, perhaps partly traceable to the fact that Keith Richards had been living with Phillips since earlier that year, and John said that the two would “jam for hours in the upstairs loft, mostly country and blues classics.”

I have this rough recording of a version of Phillips’ song, “Oh Virginia,” which clearly features Jagger’s unmistakable yowl. This is probably from those sessions, although thanks to the mislabeling power of the internet, I can’t say for sure. Either way it’s a rolling, charming ode to the South that gives us a taste of those ten days in London.

Oh Virginia (studio bootleg) – John Phillips & Mick Jagger

After 30+ years, Varese Vintage Records is re-releasing the recently-located original ’70s mix of the album they recorded together, called Pussycat. The release will also include newly-discovered outtakes and material from Phillips’ sessions that same year for the soundtrack for the film The Man Who Fell To Earth, featuring David Bowie (but really, could it possibly be better than this?).

Pussycat will be released September 9th.
Listen to a sample of the album here.


  • This is a really, really sweet find. I didn’t realise Mick Taylor reunited with The Stones after 74. Nice to find that out. The tracks posted on papajohn.com sound just as good. That’s my soundtrack for the summer sorted out. Thanks! – Nick

    Anonymous — June 30, 2008 @ 3:08 pm

  • sounds like “Dead Flowers” to me.

    staffino — June 30, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

  • Sessions with David Bowie … oh, that sounds so promising, can’t wait ot get this!
    thanx a lot

    ocboddity — July 7, 2008 @ 6:37 am

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
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