Skip to comments.More Cowbell!..Mississippi Queen, by Mountain, and the Bells of Rock
Posted on 07/19/2014 3:59:50 PM PDT by lee martell
Some classic rock songs from 'back then' have a distinctive sound in the intro, a rhythmic pattern that would probably make a good ringtone on our cell phones of today. One of those songs that could instantly set the mood was "Mississippi Queen, by the group Mountain, from 1970. The band consisted of four guys; Leslie West, Corky Laing, Felix Pappalardi and David Rea. This song, their most successful, reached #21 in the Billboard Hot 100 record chart of 1970.
There are many other good songs with the everyday Cowbell in the intro including; #1. Moby Dick, by Led Zeppelin #2. Rock and Roll, Hoohie Koo, Rick Derringer, #3. Born on the Bayou, by Creedence Clearwater Revival, #4. Fool for the City, by Foghat, #5. Stone Free, by Jimi Hendrix Experience, #6. Low Rider, by War, #7. Don't Fear The Reaper, by Blue Oyster Cult, #8. We're An American Band, by Grand Funk Railroad, #9. Honky Tonk Woman, by Rolling Stones.
Mississippi Queen was recorded during sessions for Mountain's debut album "Climbing!". Drummer Corky Laing had developed some lyrics and the drum part before joining the band. Later, when guitarist Leslie West was looking for lyrics to match a guitar part he had written, Corky pulled out "The Queen", and the two worked on the song together. When the group went on to record Mississippi Queen, Pappalardi insisted on numerous takes. Growing tired of the repetition, Laing started using the cowbell to count off the song. Pappalardi liked it so much he left it in the mix, creating the instantly recognizable intro into the song. This song has been recorded by many others, including Sam Kinison in 1990, Ozzy Osbourne in 2005, and Molly Hatchet in 2008. The original version by Mountain is my favorite. It's explosive, driving and bluesy. I wish I could hear a Zydeco version, and I usually do not like Zydeco, because that technique can become too noisy with all those Creole Violinists and Fiddlers wanting to be heard.
Put that song together with Vanishing Point (the original movie) and you’ve got something. Still trying to get Vanishing Point on the internet for free.
I used to practice the cowbell when I was younger but was never good enough to get noticed by any record producers.
Poor Mr. Mike. I think someone left his Cake Out In The Rain (and he ate it all anyway!).
Yeah, if you’re not already in that kind of rough riding mood, this type of song can be similar to a root-canal,”you know what I mean?”
Robin Trower? “Woman in Love”? Come on! More cowbell!
Yeah. Somewhere out there is the Van Cliburn or the Horowitz of cowbell, practicing alone, forgotten by the rock industry just as cruelly as by the classical music industry. I say it's racism.
Rumor has it that somewhere, in Larry Flynt’s dusty old files that have not yet been transfered online, there is a Manila folder about Dickerson. The folder is filled with photographs. Some of the photos have to do with that Company sponored New Years Eve Party of 2003. One shows a picture of Dickerson shirtless and wearing a bonnet while sitting in a playpen, next to a (muzzled) St. Bernard puppy.
There is a red Valentine sketched around that photo. The caption says, “Man’s Best Friend!”.
Great song by an underrated group. Their cover of “Theme for an Imaginary Western” remains one of my favorites.
Time Has Come Today--The Chambers Brothers (1968)
Mine too. “The King of Tone” has some pretty impressive chops and collaborators and lost a leg to diabetes a few years ago, so I’m sure he’d be pleased to be remembered here.
I love that band song. Levon could belt it out, couldn’t he. I have the digitally remastered version of Last Waltz. It’s a masterpiece.
Neil Peart. Rush.
Thank you. Was struggling to remember the name of that tune.
Nantucket Sleighride is another great one, about being pulled around by a harpooned whale.
If you like “Theme”, you might also like one of Mountain’s less well known album tracks, a prog rock opus called “Nantucket Sleighride”, from the LP of the same name:
If you’re not familiar with it, look up the lyrics. Even for us landlubbers, it’s one that puts a shiver up the spine.
I remember that one. Thanks.
I never has a chance to see Mountain in concert, but I did see West Bruce and Laing in Lincoln Nebraska in ‘73 while I was stationed at Offutt. The opening act was the Edgar Winter Band (Frankenstein) with Ronnie Montrose on guitar. Felix was stone cold deaf from too many years in front of stacks of Marshalls. Ah the days......
Oh...and I thought the Mountain keyboard player was Steve Knight. At least that’s who is credited on the albums.
bump for later
Edgar is or was one of the greats. I know his brother Johnnie just passed this week. I never knew anything about their family. How they grew up. It takes work to put a show on, a lot of work, reliability, planning, mathematically correct pay schedules and focus. You may need a bailbondsman you can trust to keep his mouth shut. Same with a nurse or doctor. You need the right instruments, kept in tune for that particular venue. I presume they would practice together almost daily, once you become that famous.
Played it a million times with my classic rock band. Great song.
IT has one of those quintessential unforgettable riffs.
Peter Frampton, Leslie West, Mississippi Queen, The Paramount, June 23 2013
Prominent cowbell in Fleetwood Macs “Oh Well”
Thanks a bunch. Just spent too much time grooving to the oldies!!
LOL! You’re welcome and maybe this will make you feel better, I did too.
I have a story about that song.
I would listen to that song in 1968 and it sent chills up my spine and scared me and I didn't know why. I just felt like somehow my time was up. Something was going to happen. Sure enough in August of 1968 through a series of unexplained circumstances, I received Jesus Christ as my Savior. I honesty believe I might have died if that hadn't happened.
Good song, but are you sure that’s not a Glockenspiel vs Cowbells?
Mountain is one of my all time faves, though I liked their ballads with Felix singing lead better than Leslie’s rockers. Critics hated them for not being Cream and hated West for not being Clapton, but their music is great. Didn’t Leslie West pass on recently?
I saw Mountain in Kansas City in the mid 70’s and still have fond memories of that day. I was also pleased to find their CD’s (including Climbing!) at Nebraska Furniture Mart in Kansas City (very reasonably priced). Leslie West remains a legend to this day. Be sure to play it loud! The Great OZ has spoken.
Leslie West had leg amputation surgery a few years ago while preparing to perform in Mississippi. To the best of my knowledge he’s still alive and well.
Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow, ‘Still I’m Sad.’ Get your vitamin bell fix here:
I like Santana’s version better.
To be fair, West didn't use a Marshall. He was waiting for his Marshalls to arrive and didn't get them in time so he was forced to use the ungodly, thunderously loud Sunn Coliseum PA Amplifier through his Marshall cabinets. And the Sunn Coliseum, which just might be the loudest guitar amplifier ever produced by this now-defunct company, went on to be part of Leslie West's signature sound.
But he most certainly used a Gibson Les Paul Junior!
I also feel “theme for a Imaginary Western “ captures something that is hard to describe. Even when America was at it’s strongest (Reagan Years?)it evoked a sadness that I also sometimes feel when looking a the end of a Columbia Film and the sunset tinged clouds are behind the figure of Columbia. If that makes any sense at all....
How do you know this about West’s use of a Sunn Coliseum PA Amp, vs the Marshall ‘he was waiting for”? Did you work with this group at some time? That’s some very specific insider knowledge you’ve displayed. You sound to be someone who either has performed or knows how to select the proper sound equipment.
“Good song, but are you sure thats not a Glockenspiel vs Cowbells?”
Here’s a video check for yourself
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