In our November 2015 “Americana issue,” we featured acts including John Fogerty, Steve Earle and the Texas Tornados (with roots in Doug Sahm’s Sir Douglas Quintet). Here we continue to share some lesser known flip sides from the featured acts to discover or rediscover.
Flip side: Big Train (From Memphis)
A side: The Old Man Down the Road
Top 100 debut: December 22, 1984
Peak position: 10
Warner Brothers 7-29100
Released in the summer of 1970, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Cosmo’s Factory” became the group’s most successful album. In addition to a majority of John Fogerty compositions, a few cover songs went back to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, including their version of the Elvis Presley flip side “My Baby Left Me” right between “Up Around the Bend” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain” on side two of the album. Simultaneously, Elvis Presley was honoring CCR with his “On Stage” live album, which featured his gold single “The Wonder of You” and on its side two, track three, it listed “Proud Mary (John Fogerty).” Two years later, CCR disbanded.
John Fogerty made a tremendous comeback in January of 1985 with his “Centerfield” album. The first single, released a few weeks ahead of the album, was “The Old Man Down the Road.” The flip side was a tribute to Elvis Presley, who had passed away during John Fogerty’s decade break from recording. The song “Big Train (From Memphis)” featured rockabilly guitar as he sang about his musical hero “like no one before, he let out a roar” and the “tracks” referred to in this “train song” were cleverly album tracks. Both sides of the second single from the album were hits. The A side “Rock and Roll Girls” reached No. 20 while the flip side “Centerfield” reached No. 44 and has received years of airplay in baseball parks.
Flip side: Little Rock ‘n’ Roller
A side: Guitar Town
Hot Country Songs debut: June 7, 1986
Peak position: 7
In 1986, Steve Earle’s debut album “Guitar Town” reached the number one position on the country music chart propelled by the album’s second single and title song “Guitar Town.” The Grammy nominated single featured an electric guitar vibrato which took listeners back to the days of Duane Eddy from decades prior. In this song about his band traveling from Nashville across the U.S., Steve Earle wrote they were “a rockin’ little combo from the guitar town.”
While traveling performances may bring excitement and encouragement to a new act, the flip side addressed missing the family back home. “Little Rock ‘n’ Roller” was a gentle lullaby with the opening line, “Hey little guy, I can’t believe you answered the phone, guess I didn’t know you could do that.” Steve Earle told his son that it would be “another couple weeks and another couple thousand miles” before he would be back home, so “go to sleep little rock ‘n’ roller” and promised him that “when you are older you can ride the big bus.” Bucky Baxter made his steel guitar debut on this album and can be heard prominently in the instrumental break.
Sir Douglas Quintet
Flip side: We’ll Take Our Last Walk Tonight
A side: She’s About a Mover
Top 100 debut: April 3, 1965
Peak position: 13
Walking past the clubs along San Antonio, Texas’ Riverwalk, one might hear a keyboard capturing the organ sounds first heard in the city by Augie Meyers 50 years ago as a member of the Sir Douglas Quintet, on the group’s first hit single “She’s About a Mover.” Doug Sahm sang, “Well she was a-walkin’ down the street, lookin’ fine as she could be, hey, hey” on the group’s first hit single for the small Tribe label. The Texas band with a British Invasion name not only reached the Top 20 in the U.S., but also did the same in the U.K.
The flip side of the 1965 single, “We’ll Take Our Last Walk Tonight,” had an organ and vocal backdrop similar to what would be heard later on another flip side in January of 1967 by The Rolling Stones, “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” their flip side of the gold single “Ruby Tuesday.” Doug Sahm sang about the upcoming departure of a girl who he had hoped would have loved him “until the end of time.”
More singles followed on Tribe until the band was picked up by Mercury’s Smash subsidiary, with the song “Mendocino” bringing them back to the Top 40 in early 1969, featuring Doug Sahm’s vocals and Augie Meyers’ organ.
In the ‘70s “(Is Anybody Going To) San Antone” by Doug Sahm and Band received a bit of airplay. In the late ‘80s Doug Sahm, Augie Meyers, Flaco Jimenez, and Freddy Fender formed the Texas Tornados.
Warren Kurtz joined Goldmine this year with his Fabulous Flip Sides feature for our print publication. He has written about music for a variety of magazines since the ‘70s in New York, Ohio, and Virginia. Warren has introduced listeners to many lesser known songs on radio stations in New York and Virginia, and has interviewed over fifty musical acts. He has also won awards for songwriting and musical production for non-profit fundraisers. His book Fabulous Flip Sides is currently in the publisher review process. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; www.facebook.com; www.linkedin.com