I hope the new week finds you well.
Late last week, word came down that the great JJ Cale had slipped the surly bonds of earth at the age of 74.
Cale who is best known for other performer’s version of the songs he wrote, actually had a long and productive recording career of his own.
Though I never ventured too deeply into his catalog, his history was of endless interest to me because of his connection to the Tulsa Sound, and through that to one of my all-time favorites, Leon Russell.
The 1960s saw a serious migration from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, led by folks like Russell, Cale, Elvin Bishop and David Gates, as well as supporting players like Jesse Ed Davis, Carl Radle, Jim Keltner and Greg Dempsey.
As I mentioned, Cale’s songs are often better known that he was (especially considering how many people thought he and Welsh Velvet Underground member John Cale were one and the same), with classics like ‘After Midnight’ and ‘Cocaine’ (Eric Clapton), ‘Call Me the Breeze’ (Lynryd Skynyrd) the most famous.
Though he didn’t record his first LP until 1972, he had been recording 45s since 1958 (first, as Johnny Cale), including a trio of singles for Liberty in 1965 and 1966.
The tune I bring you today was the flip side of his first Liberty 45, the Roger Miller-esque novelty ‘Dick Tracy’.
‘It’s a Go Go Place’, co-written by Cale and Russell, and produced by Russell and Snuff Garrett, is a very groovy little ode to the Sunset Strip with a bluesy shuffle and a cool guitar solo (sounding a little like Albert Collins).
Cale’s vocal has that Oklahoma twang and I have to assume that Russell is playing on there somewhere.
The following year would see Cale record the original version of ‘After Midnight’ for Liberty.
Cale’s Liberty 45s are fairly hard to come by and I don’t know that they’ve ever been comped, so dig the sounds and I’ll see you next week.