Tuesday, January 16, 2007:

Roots Canal: You Can't Catch Me

The Blues Project: You Can't Catch Me
Chuck Berry: You Can't Catch Me
While we're doing covers, let's switch from Body Snatchers to auto catchers. I've always loved this cover by The Blues Project of the great Chuck Berry song, You Can't Catch Me.

Is Chuck Berry one of the world's most underrated lyricists, or what? It's not just his amazing guitar work, or his duck walk. His lyrics rock. I just love it on his original version when he stretches out the syllables, "When you get too close, I'll be gone like a cool breeze."

Danny Kalb was a lightning-fast guitarist who founded The Blues Project in 1965, but the band didn't take off until it was joined by Al Kooper, fresh off his studio gig providing those unforgettable organ licks on Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone. For a while, The Blues Project was the hottest band in Greenwich Village. They seemed to headline just about every weekend at Cafe Au Go-Go, which despite its funky name was the top rock venue downtown at the time (before Fillmore East opened). They mixed blues and folk and rock'n'roll in a big psychedelic jam; they used to be considered the East Coast equivalent of the Grateful Dead. They broke up in '67 when Kalb had a bad acid trip and Kooper left to found Blood, Sweat & Tears (apparently, Kalb wouldn't let him add a horn section to The Blues Project).

You Can't Catch Me comes from The Blues Project's only studio album, Projections, recorded in 1966. It's also included on a 1997 anthology of their music called, simply, Anthology.

Bonus Tracks:
The Blues Project: I Can't Keep From Crying
Al Kooper: Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes
On the subject of covers, here's an unusual one: Al Kooper covering himself. The first version is from the same Blues Project album, Projections; the second is from an amazing compilation album released the same year called What's Shakin' with songs by Kooper, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Lovin' Spoonful, Tom Rush and a band called Eric Clapton & The Powerhouse, which is actually John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. I'm not sure whether they couldn't use Mayall's name for contractual reasons, or they just thought Clapton was a bigger star.

Which is the original and which is the cover? I have no idea.

[What's Shakin']
That Chuck Berry is the track John Lennon got sued about. I'd never heard it before, thanks. Fun track.

The Blues Project are new to me too, though of course I'd heard about Kooper through the Scorsese documentary on Dylan. I like them a lot.

Ha! Right you are. I'd forgotten all about the lawsuit, and never put it together with this song.

Al Kooper's done a lot of interesting stuff over the years. Did you ever watch the TV show "Crime Story?" He wrote the soundtrack and got a credit every week as "Guy who picks music for the show." I always got a kick out of that.

Hey thanks! I ripped an Al Kooper track off the vinyl comp 'More Heavy Sounds' today and I wanted to find some others. What a score! peace.... www.freewebs.com/jakasso

Great blog from top to bottom. Stevie Winwood sings lead on the Eric Clapton Powerhouse tracks. Don't think he was in the Bluesbreakers.

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