Keener 1968 Flashback: Al Wilson – The Snake
Radio enthusiasts who grew up listening to the superb execution of 60s rock n rollers like WKNR have a particular affinity for Johnny Rivers‘ Soul City Records. The label was the first to sign Jimmy Webb and spawned the careers of Al Wilson and the Fifth Dimension. Part of Johnny Rivers’ genius was his ability to bake good compositions, talented artists and electrifying arrangements into hit records. Listen to California Soul, Aquarius and Summer Rain and you get a feel for the hit making personality you could expect when you bought a 45 with the Soul City logo on it. One of my favorite Soul City smashes was the October, 1968 debut single from Al Wilson: The Snake. From the opening guitar riff and the Ludwig octoplex tom toms to the verses that build to a climax with key modulation and perfectly layered horns and background vocals, The Snake is a song you can listen to over and over again, finding another Rivers nuance each time. Add to the mix, Johnny’s innate understanding of how to build a mix that sounded just as hot on your Fisher stereo system as it did on your 6 inch car radio speaker and you have an exquisite example of an artist at the peak of his creative powers. Here’s a link to a good stereo rendition of The Snake.. Skip through the wannabe intro who over acts the part of a DJ.. turn your speakers up loud..?and enjoy!