Maggie Bell – Wishing Well

When I heard Maggie Bell a few years ago…the Scottish-born singer blew me away with her voice. A very big Janis vibe to her. I’ve read that she was called the UK’s Janis Joplin but she had her own style.

This song was on the album Suicide Sal released in 1975 on Led Zeppelin’s new record label Swan Song. The song was composed by John “Rabbit” Bundrick, Simon Kirke, Paul Kossoff, Paul Rodgers, and Tetsu Yamauchi. Wishing Well was a song by the band Free and it was originally released in 1972. Maggie puts her spin on it and I love it.

Jimmy Page played on this album and I love the funky bass groove that opens the song. The song didn’t chart but she would later have a top 40 song in the UK with the song Hazell.

Maggie Bell was the former lead singer of Stone The Crows. Peter Grant signed the band and had big plans for them. He was the most powerful manager in rock at that time because of Led Zeppelin. The band would come to a tragic end though. Guitarist Leslie Harvey was electrocuted and died on stage at the Top Rank in Swansea on May 3, 1972. He was the only one in position on the stage. Bell has said: “It was a fluke, we were standing at the side of the stage; we hadn’t even started yet. Leslie said to the audience: ‘There’s a technical hitch,’ and he touched the microphone and the guitar. And that was it.”  The road crew overlooked one loose ground wire.

Steve Howe of Yes helped fill in for some shows for the band after that. Jimmy McCulloch then joined them and they released an album with some songs by Harvey and a couple by McCulloch who would later join Paul McCartney and Wings. The band was over in 1973 but Peter Grant continued to manage Maggie til the early eighties.

Bell was in shock for years afterward but she said:  “I thought to myself: ‘Am I going to give all this up and go back up to Scotland and have two kids?’ I mean, this was a dream we’d planned. Peter said there would be no legal problems if I didn’t want to carry on. I said no, there was a plan. I was going to make sure that I finished the journey. I’m seventy-six years old, I’m still doing it. I mean, the body’s falling apart, but the voice is still fabulous!”

Pat Blythe: The Women of Blues Part Four – Maggie Bell | Segarini: Don't  Believe a Word I Say

You can hear Maggie Bell sing on Every Picture Tells Story by Rod Stewart. She was credited as having “vocal abrasives.” I don’t think I ever heard Maggie Bell on American radio which is a shame.

Wishing Well

Take off your hat, kick off your shoes
I know you ain’t goin’ anywhere
Run ’round the town singin’ your blues
I know you ain’t goin’ anywhere.

You’ve always been a good, good friend of mine,
But you’re always sayin’ “Farewell”
And the only time that you’re satisfied
Is when you dream from the wishing well.

Throw down your gun you might shoot yourself.
Or is that what you’re tryin’ to do?
Put up a fight you believe to be right
Someday the sun will shine through.

You’ve always been a good, good friend of mine,
But you’re always sayin’ “Farewell”
And the only time you’re satisfied
Is when you dream, dream from the wishing well.

And I know what you’re wishing for
Love in a peaceful world
Love in a peaceful world
Love in a peaceful world

You’ve always been a good, good, good friend of mine,
But you’re always sayin’ “Farewell”
And the only time that you’re satisfied
Is with your feet in the wishing well.


Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane – My Baby Gives It Away

I have often wondered why this album wasn’t more popular. It features The Who’s Pete Townshend and The Small Faces/Faces Ronnie Lane who then was leading his own band, Slim Chance. The album is full of great songs and is worth a listen. The guest musicians include Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, John Entwistle, Ian Stewart, John “Rabbit” Bundrick, and more.

In October of 1976, the Who closed a North American tour in Toronto, a show that would be the last with Keith Moon before a paying audience. The band took a break to pursue individual projects. Ronnie Lane had wanted Townshend to produce his album but he then wanted Townshend to collaborate writing on the songs. Townshend declined because he had never written with anyone before but they did manage to write the title track, Rough Mix, together.

The album ended up with Townsend songs and Lane songs. They did do a cover of a Don Williams song called Till All The Rivers Run Dry. Rough Mix didn’t draw a lot of attention at the time but is now considered a lost gem. Townshend has said in his book that there was a big argument where he shoved Ronnie Lane. He said it felt like he didn’t know his own strength because Lane felt like he was made out of paper. Later Pete found out about Lane’s multiple sclerosis.

Lane was already showing the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis (tremors, slurred speech), which others sometimes interpreted as a sign he was drunk. He didn’t tell Townshend, or very many others, about his medical diagnosis.

Townshend’s liner notes eventually read, “Ron and Pete play various acoustic & electric guitars, mandolins & bass guitars, banjos, ukuleles & very involved mind games.”

The album peaked at #44 in the Billboard Album Charts, #70 in Canada, and #45 in the UK in 1977.

Pete Townshend: The recording of Rough Mix with Ronnie is now a blur, but I remember some special moments. I played live guitar with a large string orchestra for the first time, my father-in-law Ted Astley arranging and conducting on ‘Street in the City’. I was surprised at the respect given me by the orchestral musicians. Playing with Charlie Watts on ‘My Baby Gives It Away’ was also very cool, making me aware that his jazz-influenced style was essential to the Stones’ success, the hi-hat always trailing the beat a little to create that vital swing.

Meeting John Bundrick (Rabbit) was also an important event in my life as a musician. He wandered into the Rough Mix studio one day looking for session work. Here was a Hammond player who had worked with Bob Marley, and could play as well as Billy Preston. Offstage he could be reckless and impulsive, drinking too much, asking for drugs and telling crazy stories, but musicians of his calibre didn’t come around very often.

My Baby Gives It Away

My baby wakes in the deep of the nightShe doesn’t need itBut she says it’s all rightMy baby digs it, just a Rollin’ away

My baby gives it up every dayMy baby gives it, she gives it awayMy baby gives it up every dayMy baby She just gives it away

When you’re alone in some city hotelYou can get company by ringing a bellYou might go pick up a girlOn the street

But my baby gives it up totally freeMy baby’s counting’ on, ’cause you aloneMy baby’s brother never break a your armMy baby ha, ha, I love her

She’s cheepOoh yeahMy babyMy baby

My babyMy babyMy baby

You better buy yourself an new pair of shoesAnd walk for a lifetime on that bad newsYou better buy an electric guitarThere’s no better way to beat the blues, I beat ’em

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

She give it way, every day, every wayMy baby just gives it away

My baby’s momma is a singular girlShe brought up her daughter and brought her up wellI’m breathing no more‘Cause she took it away

My baby gives it up every dayMy baby gives itShe gives it awayMy baby gives it up every day

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

My babyMy baby

How I love her, yeahMy baby, my baby, she just gives it awayMy baby, my baby, she just gives it awayMy baby, my baby, gives it away

Let me tell you, my baby, she just give it awayMy baby, every dayMy baby gives it up every dayMy baby give itJust gives it away