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Reissue of the Week: Sailcat's "Motorcycle Mama"

Posted: Jan 31, 2007
I was in the tenth grade in 1972, and I remember having the 45 of “Motorcycle Mama” by a group from Alabama known as Sailcat. It was quite a major hit, as I recall, and although it came to be lumped into the category of “novelty songs,” it was a really nifty tune from an album that had a lot of very good music pressed into it’s grooves. Originally released on Elektra Records in 1972, the album was recently reissued on CD on the Collector's Choice label. A lost classic for sure.

From it’s now legendary cover art by MAD magazine’s Jack Davis, to the excellent production of Pete Carr, the Muscle Shoals guitar hero, “Motorcycle Mama” is a joy ride from beginning to end, featuring the vocals of Court Pickett and Johnny Wyker, and some really good songs, many of them written by Wyker.

The album opens with a jam-up bluegrass thing, which also wraps the CD up at the end. Sandwiched in between are gems like “Rainbow Road,” a song on which Wyker drawls out the lead vocals like a Southern fried Mick Jagger, before plunging right into “The Thief,” which is sprinkled with some ultra-fine guitar pickin.’ That one segues into “Highway Rider,” a number that features a nice instrumental jam tacked onto the end. Next comes a Pete Carr composition called “The Dream,” a psychedelic trip across the vast and fertile fields of the Sailcat collective mind.

“If You’ve Got a Daughter” features Court singing a Wyker tune, which sets the stage for one of my favorite tracks, the ethereal instrumental “Ambush,” a groovy-cool, piano based tune featuring Chuck Leavell. That’s right, Chuck Leavell of Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones fame. Oh, I failed to mention the cast of players collected on this most excellent disc? How about Scott Boyer? Yep. The guy from Cowboy. He’s on it. And Joe Rudd, Fred Prouty, Lou Mullinix, Clayton Ivey, Art Shilling, Bill Connell, Al Lester, Tom Russell, Jesse Gormell (on the spoons) and The Memphis Horns are all playing on here. Southern music heavyweights, baby.

Wyker steps up the the mike again for “BB Gun,” once again strutting his Dixie-Jagger thang, and the results are really rockin. “It’ll Be a Long Time” leads us into the mega-hit that landed the boys on American Bandstand, “Motorcycle Mama.” Can any of us ever forget that immortal last line, “If the chain don’t break?”

“Walking Together Backwards” showcases Wyker once again, and “On The Brighter Side of It All” wraps things up for a good time trip down memory lane.

May I suggest you check out mightyfieldofvision.com, John Wyker's website that is packed with info and photos of Sailcat, as well as his pre-Cat band, The Rubber Band, and much more, including his new not-for-profit organization and internet radio shibang, The Mighty Field of Vision. You can even e-mail the guy who was half of Sailcat, and let him tell you some “Cat Tails.” Your life will be all the more brighter for it.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.

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Scarlett says...

Thanks for recommending Mighty Field radio. I tuned in and it is awesome. They even played YOU while I was listening.

michaelbuffalo says...

Thanks for the comments guys. I agree that this is a true classic record. I will never forget seing them on American Bandstand in 1972. There I go giving away my age again!

Mickatmidnight says...

Right on Buffalo! Look for a new Sailcat single comin' out soon too bro!

wchrisj says...

Man, all these re-issues are really great. This one in particular. Motorcycle Mama was a true classic. Thanks for the memories.

loydrock says...

Great trip down memory lane with that one. Keep on finding these rare jewels to share with us.

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