Six-Pack: John Paul Jones

Friday, January 3, 2020
John Paul Jones SCREAM FOR HELP Cover

It’s John Paul Jones’s birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, we’re taking a few moments – which adds up to exactly six songs – to look into some of the oft-forgotten moments in JPJ’s back catalog, i.e. the ones that didn’t involve being the bassist for Led Zeppelin. Yes, that’s right, he had a career both before and after the biggest band in the world...and here’s proof!

1.    John Paul Jones, “Baja” (1964): Before he entered the studio to record this Lee Hazlewood track, John Paul Jones wasn’t John Paul Jones, he was simply John Baldwin. When the time came to release it, however, Baldwin’s manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, decided that the kid needed a better name and bestowed upon him a name he’d seen on a movie poster. Hey, you can’t argue with the results!

2.    The Rolling Stones, “She’s a Rainbow” (1967): In ’67, everybody suddenly needed to get a psychedelic album out of their systems, and in the case of the Rolling Stones, that album was called THEIR SATANIC MAJESTY’S REQUEST, which is one of those titles that must’ve given them hives in the Bible Belt. Setting aside the religious connotations, however, the album is somewhat of a mixed bag, musically speaking, but it’s got at least one undeniable classic, and it’s this track, which features a string arrangement by – you guessed it – John Paul Jones.

3.    Cat Stevens, “Here Comes My Baby” (1967): The singer-songwriter now known as Yusuf was just bumming around London during the mid-1960s, playing shows and doing whatever he could to get his tunes noticed. It finally happened when he crossed paths with Mike Hurst, who took him on as a client and hustled Stevens into the studio to lay down the songs for his debut album, MATTHEW AND SON. This song is on that album, and we know Jones is on the track because he was on every track!

4.    Graham Gouldman, “The Impossible Years” (1968): Although he first found fame as a songwriter and later found further fame as a member of 10CC, Gouldman did take a shot at a solo career between those two key moments of his career. Co-produced by Gouldman with Jones, THE GRAHAM GOULDMAN THING features a number of immediately-recognizable song titles, including “For Your Love” and “Bus Stop,” but this is the opening track.

5.    Butthole Surfers, “Who Was In My Room Last Night” (1993): Given that the Surfers found their first semblance of mainstream success when they covered a song that originally featured Jones – Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” – it’s not quite as startling as it might be that the band hired him to produce their major label debut, INDEPENDENT WORM SALOON. As frontman Gibby Haynes recalled in an interview for the website Caught in the Crossfire, however,  it wasn’t cheap. “We spent so much money on that record!” said Haynes. “We basically spent a fortune to hang out with some guy from Led Zeppelin!”

6.    John Paul Jones, “When You Fall in Love” (1985): We’re going to wrap things up with one of the rarest things in this man’s back catalog, which is a song featuring an honest-to-goodness lead vocal by Mr. Jones. That it wasn’t released as a single is  a shame, and that the album on which it appears – the soundtrack to Scream for Help – is out of print is a crime, but thanks to the power of YouTube, at least you can still hear what it sounds like.