Area Code 615 – Devil Weed And Me

5th November 2023 · 1970, 1970s, Music

I’ve never heard of Area Code 615 though I do know one of their songs without even knowing it – their number Stone Fox Chase is the theme music of the Old Grey Whistle Test. 

This isn’t it though.

Named after the telephone area code for Nashville, Area Code 615 were a studio supergroup formed by Nashville session musicians who played on Bob Dylan’s 1969 country album Nashville Skyline.

Probably unknown to UK audiences, they were a who’s who of Nashville session stars: Charlie McCoy, Mac Gayden, Weldon Myrick, Kenny Buttrey, Bobby Thompson, Wayne Moss, Buddy Spicher, Norbert Putnam, and David Briggs.

Some of them had also played on Dylan’s previous album, Blonde On Blonde, as well as Linda Ronstadt’s Silk Purse (the one with the bizarre cover shot of Linda chilling with some pigs in a pigsty), and other recordings by The Monkees and Billy Swan.

The band made two albums as Area Code 615, a self-titled debut and a follow-up in 1970 called Trip In The Country, from which this great tune – Devil Weed And Me – is taken.

As you’d expect, the musicianship is superlative, and they take the opportunity to spread their wings far further than they would be able to in their day jobs, creating a kind of progressive country sound that mixes heavy rock riffing with funky bass and drums and jazzy piano.

Sadly, they returned to their more lucrative session work after that – some formed another equally forgotten band called Barefoot Jerry while Briggs went on to work most notably with Elvis – leaving behind those two collectors’ items, which were re-released as a double package in 1974.

And while they may remain best known for that OGWT theme, their cover of Classical Gas lives on in the TV ads for Guinness in the UK and Ireland.

I’m guessing folks like Danny Champ are familiar with their slender repertoire.