August 22, 2007

John Lennon & Mick Jagger’s lost collaboration

In 1973, Yoko Ono kicked John Lennon out. She sent their personal assistant May Pang off with him, with the instructions to “be with John, help him, and see that he gets whatever he wants.” Together Pang and Lennon moved to Los Angeles, a period dubbed “The Lost Weekend.” It was a weekend that lasted from 1973-1975, during which Lennon passed the time with Phil Spector, recording material that would eventually be released as part of his Rock ‘n’ Roll LP. He also caroused through the town with musician buddies who informally called themselves the Hollywood Vampires: Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon, Micky Dolenz and Alice Cooper, and he was known to have recorded songs with Mick Jagger, Elton John, and David Bowie during that time frame as well.

The track he laid down with Mick Jagger was, for a long time, just mythical. In 2003, a London record store owner put an unlabeled record up for auction which he claimed had come originally from Ronnie Wood (guitarist for the Stones) and contained a collaboration cover of Jagger singing the old Willie Dixon blues song, “Too Many Cooks” with Lennon on guitar. Some reports also place Ringo Starr on drums and date the recording to London 1974. That unlabelled acetate (made directly from a master tape, and found in a stack of records) sold for £1,400, and Mick admitted that he had forgotten it existed for a number of years.

Now Mick is going to release that recording on his upcoming compilation album, The Very Best of Mick Jagger [October 2, Rhino]. The album collects material from all four of Mick’s solo albums, recordings from various points throughout his career, and will include three previously unreleased tracks, including the collaboration with Lennon.

It seems to me that Jagger may have recorded an earlier version of this same song in L.A. in 1973 during the Lost Weekend period with Lennon only producing and not playing? The band for this session is credited to include Harry Nilsson on backing vocals, Beatles collaborator Jim Keltner on drums, Stones sax player Bobby Keys, Cream bassist Jack Bruce, and Al Kooper on keys (you may remember him from the hesitant Hammond B3 playing on Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone,” if you’ve seen the Scorsese documentary).

So essentially, I am driving myself crazy trying to nail down the slippery provenance on this specific version. It’s the history sleuth in me. I guess we’ll find out October 2 if Lennon is playing here or not. It’s a cool, funky, brassy song either way.

Too Many Cooks (Spoil The Soup) – Mick Jagger & “The Jim Keltner Orchestra” (so-dubbed by John Lennon)

photo credit Jef A̩rosol Рstencilled paste-ups on Fashion Street in London (between Brick Lane and Commercial Street), July 15, 2007

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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
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

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