The Big 3
Tim Rose, Cass Elliot, Jim Hendricks
Today, I come prepared to blow your minds (most of them, anyway).
Some of you may be already be aware of the existence of the Big 3.
The folk group, together for a brief period in the early 60s is best known as one of the earliest groups to include the mighty voice of Cass ‘Mama Cass’ Elliot.
Though that’s a big deal in and of itself, the group also included none other than Tim Rose, and Jim Hendricks (who was married to Elliot, and went on to form the Lamp of Childhood).
The Big 3 were fairly successful, appearing on national television and touring with Bill Cosby.
They recorded two albums (one live in the studio) and a few 45s before breaking up , with Rose going on to solo success and Hendricks and Elliot forming the Mugwumps with John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky (a group that would record a bunch but have nothing released until they were broken up and all gone on to be rock stars).
All cool, but none of it is mindblowing (well, maybe just a tiny bit).
The crazy thing, is the song I bring you today, ‘The Banjo Song’.
Pulled from their self-titled 1963 LP, ‘The Banjo Song’ is basically a reworking of Stephen Foster’s ‘Oh Susannah’.
Tim Rose takes writing credit, but the arrangement is so radically different that I suspect most people wouldn’t recognize the song right away.
But that’s not anything earthshaking in and of itself.
So take a minute and listen to the song.
What you’re hearing, is the blueprint for Shocking Blue’s 1969 mega-hit ‘Venus’.
And not just the riff, the WHOLE FUCKING THING (lyrics aside).
The first time I heard ‘The Banjo Song’ I was convinced someone was yanking my chain. I mean, it couldn’t be more spot on, so much so that – considering the people involved – I couldn’t believe it wasn’t better known.
Shocking Blue singer Mariska Veres even lifts the wordless vocal section by Mama Cass in the middle of the song.
Like I said. Crazy.
The rest of the album is pretty nice stuff by folk revival standards. Rose and Elliot are both very interesting singers and the selection of songs, including versions of ‘I Know My Rider’ (done here as ‘Rider’) and ‘Dink’s Song’ (listed here as ‘Nora’s Dove (Dink’s Song)’) which are very nice.
The album isn’t terribly hard to find, and if you dig this era’s stuff, worth having.
That said, download the MP3 and impress your friends.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you next week.