Friday, June 22, 2012

Track Lineage: "Let Me Roll It"

Track Lineage is a new segment I am introducing that examines the history of a song as well as its descendants. I am kicking it off with one of my favorite post-Beatles McCartney songs. Paul McCartney turned 70 this past Monday and with that came many musicians covering his songs in celebration. One of the choice tracks was the classic "Let Me Roll It" released February 15, 1974 on Apple Records. The song first appeared as the last track on side one of the Paul McCartney & Wings album Band on the Run. It was also featured as the b-side to the single for "Jet". It is often seen as a pastiche of John Lennon's style during that period and certainly features some of Lennon's signature marks. You can hear the influence in the dirty guitar tones and the tape echo vocals that seem to be derived straight from "Cold Turkey"; although this notion was shot down by McCartney himself. The song was inspired by a line in "I'd Have You Anytime", the opening track on the 1970 album All Things Must Pass by George Harrison. Perhaps unwittingly but more likely in response to the song's sound, Lennon's 1974 track "Beef Jerky" from Walls and Bridges featured an almost identical but extended riff. "Let Me Roll It" has become a live staple in McCartney's arsenal and there is some great footage of him performing the song in the fall of 2005 from The Space Within US DVD which can be seen here.

The Melvins have done an incredible job of making the song their own and integrating their signature stoner groove into it. Their cover can be found on the excellent new album Freak Puke.

On the night of McCartney's birthday, Fiona Apple performed a passionate, chill-inducing version of the song with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. It is a must-see and can be viewed below.

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