Music Routes Blog

SMLP #3 (Special Rosh Hashanah Edition): South Sea Island Magic to Iggy Pop

20 September 2009

For this Saturday Morning Listening Party, Humuhumu purchased a 4-LP Reader's Digest 1968 collection of escapist easy listening called South Sea Island Magic. Anu brought over the Iggy Pop record Party and described it as a failed attempt to do a New Wave sell-out album. He particularly cited "Pumpin' For Jill" as having bad lyrics and a ludicrous keyboard solo that is hilariously loud in the mix.

Because this is the special Rosh Hashanah edition of the SMLP, I'll point out that Iggy Pop (who, Wikipedia tells me, was "born James Newell Osterberg, Jr.") is (according to multiple online sources) Jewish. Shana tova! To help us celebrate, Humuhumu baked a honey cake with apple sauce.

Let's look at one of the many possible routes from the South Sea Island Magic collection to Iggy Pop's "Pumpin' For Jill" on Party.

The Reader's Digest collection has credits that leave most of the musicians anonymous.  It does list Louis Nunley as the vocalist on a number of tracks. Nunley has had a long career as a background singer in Nashville. He even supposedly has recorded with Elvis Presley, but I can't find anything that indicates what track he might be on. (Help?)

Our route starts with Nunley singing "Macao" which is on the third LP of the four-LP collection.  A rip of the LP can be downloaded via mp3 blog 's marvelous distro.

Nunley is on "He Is Beautiful To Me" by Crystal Gayle on her album True Love.  YouTube has clips of two or three different live performances of the track.  I don't know if Nunley is on any of those live performances, but I suspect not.

The studio version of "He Is Beautiful To Me" also featured The Nashville String Machine.  Part of the machinery was violinist Dennis Molchan who was tapped to play in the violin section when Ray Charles recorded a duet with Elton John.  The duet was "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" and was released on the Ray Charles album Genius Loves Company.  (The YouTube video indicates that this track was the last thing Ray Charles recorded before passing away.  Confirmation anyone?)

Elton John played piano on "2 X 2" by Bob Dylan from Dylan's Under The Red Sky.

The drummer on that track was Kenny Aronoff.  Aronoff has an extensive list of studio credits, including Iggy Pop's "Starry Night" from Brick By Brick.

And, of course, this brings us to Iggy Pop's "Pumpin' For Jill".