[Slowhand] "New" JJ Cale album with EC mentions

Woff woff at tpg.com.au
Thu Aug 9 18:15:05 EDT 2007

In stores Oct 2, for additional info see:

A trove of previously unreleased songs recorded by American music
icon J.J. Cale during his early, and arguably most influential, years
will at long last be released. Featuring vintage tracks from Cale’s
legendary tenures at Shelter Records and Mercury Records, Rewind:
Unreleased Recordings’ will be in stores on October 2nd. Recorded at
the same time Eric Clapton introduced Cale’s songs “After Midnight”
and “Cocaine” to mainstream audiences, Rewind is a remarkable
collection of songs that epitomize the distinctive sound and style
that Cale built.



An artist, a song, a group of musicians, a producer, and a studio.
The tape rolls, and everyone leaves well pleased. But then something
happens, and the song doesn’t quite fit the project. These are
fourteen songs, recorded between 1973 and 1983, that didn’t quite fit
at the time. For many years, they were stored in the basement of
Audie Ashworth’s house in Nashville. Ashworth was J. J. Cale’s
producer and music publisher, and the basement was Crazy Mama’s
Studio, known to those who examine the back of LP covers as the site
of some of Cale’s finest recordings. In common with all of Cale’s
recordings, these were painstakingly crafted with a profound
understanding of how recordings are made. His touch of genius was to
apply technology and craftsmanship to the point that they became
invisible. Anyone can be clever; simplicity is tough.

A little background. In 1964, John Cale moved from Tulsa to Los
Angeles. Hometown buddy Leon Russell was already there. “Through
Leon, I met a guy named Snuff Garrett,” says Cale. “Leon was an
arranger for Snuff, and I worked as an engineer for him. I’d do Pat
Boone, Lesley Gore sessions, and then I got tired of that and figured
I’d go to Nashville. I asked Snuff if he knew anyone in Nashville,
and he said, ‘Yeah. Hubert Long.’ So I drove to Nashville, figured
I’d get some work playing guitar or something. Met Hubert, and, at
that time, Audie Ashworth handled Hubert’s publishing. Told them I’d
do anything. ‘Hey, man, I’ll play guitar for you, be your engineer.’
When you’re poor, that’s how it is.

“Before that, Snuff had produced a record on me, ‘After Midnight,’
and nothing much happened until Eric Clapton cut it. I was back in
Tulsa then. Almost outta music. Audie called me. ‘You oughta come
back to Nashville and make an album.’ So I did. Audie shopped the
record around, and wouldn’t nobody take it until he pitched it to
Shelter Records. I liked Audie. He didn’t bother me. I didn’t have to
talk to nobody. He had a beautiful way of telling you he didn’t like
something in a way that didn’t hurt your ego. Like, I did ‘Cocaine’
in a jazzy style and he said, ‘Naw, that ain’t gonna work.’ So I made
it rock ‘n’ roll. That was Audie.”

J. J. Cale’s records made their way to those who needed to hear them:
a worldwide fellowship of fans together with some big name acts who
covered a song now and again. There were just enough fans for the
records to pay for themselves and just enough big name acts, like
Eric Clapton, Santana, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, for J. J. Cale and Audie
Ashworth to live pretty well. Audie wanted Cale to take it to the
next level, but Cale resisted, and Audie respected that decision.
“Audie wanted me to wear a five thousand dollar rhinestone suit and
look like Porter Wagoner and he wanted my photo on the records. I
tried to tell him I wanted to be part of the show; I didn’t want to
be the show. I didn’t want to be famous. I’ve been around some very
famous people, but they’re uncomfortable soon as they leave the
house. Now a lot of people thrive on that. ‘Look at me, look at me,
look at me.’ But I’m not like that. I told Audie, ‘If people don’t
know how I look, I can go get a sandwich at Denny’s.’ He kinda got
it, I think.” Every year or so, Shelter Records leaned on Ashworth
who in turn leaned on Cale. “He’d say, ‘John, we need a new album.’
I’d say, ‘What was wrong with the last one?’ He’d hire the musicians
and the studio. I’d sing some songs for the musicians, and we’d
figure what worked and what didn’t.”

J. J. Cale had been dissecting records since the early Fifties and
used that knowledge to create his signature sound. “When I came up,”
he says, “I was listening to Les Paul and he was the one who started
manipulating sound. Ninety-five percent of my records is me
manipulating the sound. People like that natural sound but a lot of
that is me manipulating it to make it sound like a back porch record.
There’s a bunch of technology that’s been made to sound kinda funky,

In 1975, J. J. Cale and Audie Ashworth built Crazy Mama’s studio,
named for the only Top 30 hit Cale scored under his own name. Cale
was living on Old Hickory Lake near Nashville at the time, and built
a parallel universe with the same technology at the lake house. That
way, he could take the tapes home and work on them some more. But
even with his own studio, Cale would still record at Nashville’s full-
line studios. “We recorded mostly my own stuff at Crazy Mama’s, and
those cover songs were done at what Audie and me called uptown
sessions,” says Cale. Some of the best-known session players of the
day were called in, and all of them rose to the challenge of helping
Cale craft his minimalist pieces. They would overcut for every LP,
and these recordings were among those sidelined for one reason or
another. If there’s a surprise, it’s the number of cover versions.
“Generally,” says Cale, “I never did other peoples’ songs ‘cause I
can’t really sing too good so I just stuck to my own little bluesy
thing. I like other people’s songs, and it’s not that I don’t like my
own songs, it’s just that I’ve become predictable to myself.” A few
albums had non-original songs, but only a few.

“I became friends with Waylon Jennings. We weren’t cronies, but we
were a mutual admiration society, and I always liked that ‘Waymore’s
Blues.’ We’d record maybe two weeks in a row and do maybe thirty
songs, and sometimes I’d just sneak a song like that in there. Always
liked Randy Newman, too, and ‘Rollin’’ was my favorite song of his. I
didn’t get out of my bag with that one. Leon Russell’s song, ‘My
Cricket,’ was almost like a demo when he done it, so we made a bigger-
sounding record out of it.” “Golden Ring” is an Eric Clapton song,
and a previously unknown chapter in the Cale/Clapton story. But when
it came down to deciding which songs to include or exclude, Audie
Ashworth worked on the premise that he was trying to establish J. J.
Cale as a songwriter and an artist, and so it made sense to keep the
focus on original songs.

J. J. Cale eventually returned to California, and Audie moved Crazy
Mama’s across town to an old lodge on ten acres that he’d owned since
the late 1970s. The studio was equipped with the console on which
George Harrison had recorded much of All Things Must Pass and another
formerly used by Herbie Hancock. Cale was to record his next studio
album there and there were plans to release a live album, as well as
this collection of previously unreleased recordings. But sadly, Audie
passed away suddenly in August 2000. Other projects intervened, but
now Audie’s wife, Bonnie, feels that the time is right for these
recordings to see light-of-day. “It is,” said Cale, “kinda like
someone showing you a bunch of old photographs from thirty-five years

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