Monday, July 19, 2010

Parentheses: (Watch Out for Yourself) Mr. Jones

The Orange Electric Squidders (Fleetwood Mac): (Watch Out for Yourself) Mr. Jones

[out of print]

When Danny Kirwin joined Fleetwood Mac as it's third singer/guitarist in 1968, second singer/guitarist Jeremy Spencer became the odd man out. As Kirwin and first singer/guitarist Peter Green started exploring new sounds, Spencer's repetitive Elmore James impersonations were getting old. In concert, he only played on his songs, sitting out while the rest of the band jammed on. The shows often ended with Jeremy and the band transforming into Earl Vince and the Valiants for an encore of '50s rockers, but that hardly qualified as a new direction.

So when the band assembled to record Then Play On, Spencer didn't participate. A plan was floated to include with the album a free EP of Spencer's sarcastic takes on current popular music, but the record company didn't go for it. The EP (recorded in '68 while the rest of the band were working on the chart-topping instrumental "Albatross") was conceived as a mythical U.S. TV program, "The Milton Schlitz Show". The five tracks were eventually released in 1998 as part of the now-out-of-print outtakes compilation The Vaudeville Years - 1968 to 1970, and they're a hoot.

Spencer parodies doo-wop, British bluesmen Alexis Korner and John Mayall, and Lightnin' Hopkins, but the highlight of the set is Jeremy's take on "heavy" psychedelic rock, "(Watch Out for Yourself) Mr. Jones," performed by "The Orange Electric Squidders." Although the fake band name was meant to evoke the likes of the Electric Prunes, the music has more in common with Cream. Had it been released as a single at the time, one wonders how it would have fared.

Jeremy released a whole album of spoofs in 1970 (including "Take a Look Around Mrs. Brown", a song that would not have been out of place on a Dukes of Stratosphear album) and one more album with the Mac (Kiln House) before unexpectedly leaving the band for a religious cult while on tour in America. Surprisingly, after being considered a lost cause for decades, Spencer resurfaced in the last few years playing the blues again.

blog comments powered by Disqus