FMF Episode #55 – Gypsys, Tramps, & Thieves

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DJ: Hello and welcome to another round of Feel Me Flow! This week we took an old Cher song and created an entire episode out of it! Our theme today is Gypsys, Tramps, & Thieves! It’s weird how they spell Gypsys on the song and album version of Cher’s song. I mean, Y?! What gives?

Though it isn’t the greatest song ever written by any means, it sure makes for a great playlist topic! Many a tune has been written in the name of the roving persons known as gypsies, plenty of songs about gypsy women, frustrated singers lamenting over tramps who’ve done them wrong, or songs about a thief stealing your heart or other prized good. We’re gonna sample all three flavors today, starting off with the title track to today’s theme.

Cher’s self-titled 1970 album would be renamed to include the title track after the single became an instant hit. Songwriter Bob Stone had originally penned it as “Gypsys, Tramps, and White Trash, but producer Snuff Garrett advised him to change it to “thieves”. Landing Cher her first solo #1 single, here’s the title track to the renamed album by Cher.

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DJ: Beach Slang’s 2016 LP A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings was recorded during the rockiest part of the band’s history, with two members leaving before its release. Earlier that year, during a show in Salt Lake City, the band tried covering The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” but fell apart. After the song, lead singer James Alex stated “We were Beach Slang, Natalie give them their money back.” which prompted then-guitarist Ruben Gallego to throw his guitar down and quit. James told the audience they were done shortly after that. The band, though, did not completely dissolve, and James released a “quiet” interpretation of their songs titled Everything Matters But No One Is Listening in 2018.

The Clash submitted their Junior Murvin cover to our theme today. “Police & Thieves” was originally done as a slow reggae tune before Strummer and the boys go a hold of it. Joe was a known reggae fan and helped created the bridge over the gap that connects punk and ska still to this day. We played the Junior original on our Crime & Punishment episode if you want to hear it in some context.

Perhaps the best known “Tramp” song that exists, we played the well-known cover of Lowell Fulson’s 1967 song. Otis Redding & Carla Thomas pushed their cover out just 4 months after the release of Lowell’s, and boy did they cast a shadow. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t know this wasn’t an Otis song. Nevertheless, the jam from King & Queen finds its way to our first set.

Mr. Band of Gypsies, himself, Jimi Hendrix stopped by before Otis and Carla. The 1968 masterpiece Electric Ladyland featured smash singles “All Along The Watchtower”, “Crosstown Traffic” and “Voodoo Chile” among others, but it was the album-cut “Gypsy Eyes” that soaked up 3 recording sessions and 50 takes. Can you imagine spending that much time on ONE SONG? Well, that’s why it’s a masterpiece.

Hendrix fans Wolfmother exploded onto the scene with their debut self-titled album in 2005/2006. The “Joker & The Thief” references the “joker” and “thief” from Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower”, the tune Jimi launched into interstellar superfame 38 years prior. Don’t you just love how these things connect? Here’s Aussie’s best hard rock throwback band Wolfmother. Turn this one up!

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DJ: Sticking with the Hendrix topic, let’s bring in a little Betty Davis. Betty Davis, born Betty Mabry, was a model and songwriter from New York in 1967 when she met Miles Davis. Miles, who we’re hearing behind us now, would marry Betty the following year. By 1969, though the couple would divorce after Miles accused Betty of cheating on him…with Jimi Hendrix. Jimi and Miles had grown close in 1968, which is why Jimi’s music started sound like it was fused with jazz and Miles incorporated more rock elements into his songs. Crazy huh? Back to Betty though, her sophomore LP included the funk jam “Don’t Call Her No Tramp”, which we gladly played today.

We weren’t going to make it through a gypsy playlist without the infamous Gypsy Punks, Gogol Bordello. In an interview with NPR in 2006, lead singer Eugene Hutz described his musical influences as Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies record (which he had no idea at the time that it was called that, a huge coincidence), and Parliament Funkadelic. His dad was a musician and friends with African students studying in Kiev who would get him all kinds of bootlegged Western music on tape. Thank you, whoever you are, students of Kiev, and to the rest of you bootleggers who risk punishment or incarceration to simply hear great music where it isn’t available! We played “Sally” from the band’s breakthrough album, 2005’s Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike.

 JJ Cale’s 1976 LP Troubador included what would become one of his most famous songs, thanks to Eric Clapton; “Cocaine”. But the song that followed it on the album, “I’m A Gypsy Man” was a cover of Sonny Curtis’ b-side to his single “I Wanna Go Bummin’ Around”. The same man who produced Cher’s titular theme song for our episode, Snuff Garrett, also produced that Sonny Curtis single.

If you like the fuzzy, blues-country sounds of that Troubador album, you might enjoy the fuzzy, blues-country rock sounds of Blitzen Trapper. Blitzen Trapper are a huge favorite of FMF. If you’re into punk rock but want to try country, try Blitzen Trapper. If you’re into country but are feeling a bit rock and roll. Try Blitzen Trapper. From the band’s 2007 Sub Pop release, Wild Mountain Nation, that was “Miss Spiritual Tramp”, a reference to the JD Salinger short story “A Perfect Day For Bananafish”.

Our next set gets a little psychedelic. Starting things off is Danish band Iceage with a track from their critically acclaimed 2018 album Beyondless. Icecage toured with the Black Lips throughout Europe in 2018 to support the effort. Here’s “Thieves Like Us”.

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DJ: Man. Can, sure can jam. The Krautrock pioneers recorded a slough of tracks in 1968 with the hopes of releasing their debut Prepare To Meet Thy Pnoom. After no label would take on the project, they persisted in their recording and eventually released Monster Movie in 1969. The 1968 demos would surface officially in 1981 as Delay 1968, which included the track “The Thief”.

A couple “quieter” years came after Habibi released their debut self-titeld album on Burger Records in 2014. Touring and supporting the music would be the main focus, along with releasing a couple of EPs. One EP was a split with previous Set 4 Score artist La Luz, and another, titled Cardamom Garden would surface in 2018. Rumor has it the band is working on releasing a new album along with a repressing of the original debut. From their 2018 EP, we heard “Gypsy Love”.

Another previously featured Set 4 Score artist occupied the middle of our set. Bummers played us “Lucky” during our Luck episode and donated another album cut from their self-titled debut, “Gypsies And Drugs”, to this show. The band released Dolores in 2017 and according to their Facebook page have big plans for 2019. Let’s hope those plans include some more great music!

Crocodiles, the psych-gaze sworn enemies of Sherrif Joe Arpaio, yes that Sherriff, chimed in with a cut from 2015’s Boys. “The Boy Is A Tramp” channels The Jesus And Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey” with it’s “On Broadway”-like bass line and spacey snares and swells. Don’t you just love that 60s style melody thrust into the spacey sounds of the New Millennium?

Our Set 4 this week starts with a couple Fleetwood Mac covers. Woodstock alumni Santana took the British band’s voodoo-esque track and put their own Latin spin on it, adding a cover of Gábor Szabó’s “Gypsy Queen” to the end of their version for a double cover delight. Gábor has an entire album about the themed “gypsy”, titled Gypsy ’66. Gábor was Hungarian, born and raised not far from where Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello grew up albeit many years apart. Here’s Santana doing “Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen” from Abraxas.

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DJ: Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) morphed into the classic rock  outfit that we know today after the lineup change of The Guess Who in the late 60s. Randy Bachman left the band to form Brave Belt with his brother and original Guess Who singer Chad Allan. After evolving into a more rock-oriented outfit and renaming themselves Bachman-Turner Overdrive, the sky was the limit. Fans loved the upbeat music, something to dance to! From that smash sophomore release Bachman-Turner Overdrive II, we played the deep cut “Tramp”.

Arctic Monkeys swung in with a b-side deep cut from their single “Fluorescent Adolescent”. “Plastic Tramp” has its own entry in the Urban Dictionary in direct reference to the song’s lyrics Apparently a plastic tramp is a traveling hobo who wears Crocs and recycles plastic bottles. I’m not quite sure why Alex is so upset with him, though? 

Our Set 4 Score this week comes from Montreal band UBT, or Uncle Bad Touch. The unique dancing guitar lick that leads the song off travels up and down the scale almost like a snake charmer raising the reptile from its basket. Coupled with double-time tambourine smacks and a bit of “technology” the song “Gypsy Woman” makes for one hell of a score. From the band’s most recent output Ego Orientation, that was UBT with “Gypsy Woman”.

And following up the Santana cover was Tigers Jaw covering a bit of Fleetwood. “Gypsy” was originally written in 1979 by Stevie Nicks with the hopes of it possibly being included on her debut solo album Bella Donna. After her friend Robin Anderson died of leukemia in the early 80s, Stevie held it over for Fleetwood Mac’s album Mirage. Tigers Jaw recorded a cover of “Gypsy” in 2011 for a one-off single which we played today.

Coming up next is the Seattle prog-math-indie band Minus The Bear. After a 17 year career, 6 albums and 4 EPs, the band announced their retirement in July of 2018. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them live more than once and can tell you first hand that if you missed them, you truly missed something amazing. Precision is a word that comes to mind. From their 2010 album OMNI, here’s Minus The Bear doing “The Thief”.


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DJ: From that little Minnesota town! Dylan’s 1970 album New Morning was a return to his normal vocal styling after a couple years in country crooner land. The album is chock-full of great songs, too! Well, what Dylan album isn’t, though, really? “Went To See The Gypsy” was often thought to have been about Bob meeting Elvis Presley. The lyrics to the song might point you there, but he told Rolling Stone in 2009 that he never met the guy. As is true with Dylan, the song had loosely based truths skewed into fantastical stories with characters becoming more interesting as Bob’s pen laid more ink down. He does throw a nice little reference to Hibbing in there, though.

Compulsive Gamblers dropped by with the album-ender to Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing, “Two Thieves”. The Hives are said to had covered that song live before. The song tells the story of two outcasts whose paths should never have crossed and represents the Wild West mentality of that idea by soaking the music in a Country/Western bath.

After Brian Hyland found fame as a teeny-bop star with the smash single “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” and “Sealed With A Kiss”, he would start to lean toward a more country-tinged sound. In 1966, he recorded The Joker Went Wild with producer Snuff Garrett and session musicians Leon Russell and JJ Cale. In 1969 he scored a minor hit with a cover of The Impressions’ 1961 song “Gypsy Woman” produced by Del Shannon.

When Rolling Stone got their hands on Uriah Heep’s Very ‘eavy, Very ‘umble, the review written by Melissa Mills would end up creating more of a Streisand effect than any other. Melissa’s review begins with “If this group makes it I’ll have to commit suicide. From the first note you know you don’t want to hear any more.” Typical Rolling Stone holier-than-thou and very wrong review. See their Led Zeppelin reviews or Top 500 lists for more on that.

Alright, from that country-tinged ending of the fifth set we move on to some country punk. Ok just some punk rock. Though, the Swingin’ Utters are well-versed in country music. Lead singer Johnny “Peebucks” Bonnel takes plenty of inspiration from the Outlaw country artists like Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. Peebucks fronts the Filthy Thieving Bastards as well, a country punk outfit. From the Utters’ 2011 LP Here, Under Protest, here’s “Lepers, Thieves, and Whores”.

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DJ: Ol’ Blue Eyes winds down our final set with a rendition of the 1935 showtune “The Lady Is A Tramp”. Frank recorded his take just after the release of Disney’s Lady And The Tramp, released in 1955. From his 1957 LP A Swingin’ Affair!, that was “The Lady Is A Tramp”.

We got a bit quieter with Siren frontman Kevin Coyne doing some bedroom demos. According to this review of his 1999 release Sugar Candy Taxi, when Jim Morrison died, Elektra Records offered Kevin the role of his replacement. Kevin responded with a no, citing he “didn’t like the leather trousers”. Probably a good thing. Doors fans would’ve freaked. After Siren, Kevin recorded some home demos on a reel-to-reel at home for future release on his solo debut. The 1972 debut Case History showcased the outsider writings that Kevin did so well, and transformed his demo “Tramp’s Song” into “Uggy’s Song” and sang an octave up. I prefer the demo.

Actress Zooey Deschanel teamed up with M. Ward to form She & Him in 2006. Zooey had been writing material throughout her life but let the music side of things fall by the wayside when acting took off. The group was a success, churning out beach-friendly sun-kissed tunes that every California could tan to. They continue to crank out music, including a Christmas LP in 2011. We played “Thieves” from Volume Two.

108 years ago this week, Gypsy Rose Lee (Rose Louise Hovick) was born in Seattle, Washington. One of the most famous, if not the most famously well-known ecdysiast and burlesque dancers in history, Lee served as inspiration to Brody Dalle as she was growing up. Brody turned 18, married Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong, and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in punk rock. The debut Distillers album features the Dalle-penned homage to Gypsy Rose.

And that, friends, is the end. We hope you enjoyed our show today! In no way were we looking to offend anyone, and do understand the connotations and connections that the words of our theme have to certain people around the world. It’s just a theme, from a Cher song. We plan on doing similar themes later this season, so stay tuned if this was something you enjoyed! See you next time on Feel Me Flow!


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