Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Favorite Things

Last weekend I saw the new Bill Maher movie "Religulous" in which he talks about the ignorance and intolerance so prevalent in almost all organized religions and how politicians use people's religious beliefs to further their own causes. And for the most part I agree with him. The planners behind 9/11 certainly used religion to get the actual perpetrators to do the terrible things they did that caused so much death and destruction. Going back to the Crusades (and probably before) religion has been used as an excuse to commit some of the most barbarous atrocities in the history of human civilization. Today in the 21st century there are still people who believe that AIDS is God's punishment for gays and that the laws of evolution are a blasphemy. The one thing that  bothers me about the movie though is his smugness. Despite how much I personally agree with his views he comes across as too self-satisfied. I have some good friends who are practicing Muslims, Jews and Christians who are also loving, intelligent, compassionate people who are not bigoted in any way. They just find comfort in their beliefs and rituals. As with everything there are two sides to the story. If not more.

When I first started this blog a few weeks ago I knew that at some point I was going to post John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things". While there are plenty of writers out there who can do a much better job of talking about all the reasons why, there is no denying that like The Beatles, he is a cultural icon whose influence is far more than just musical. While this is one of Coltrane's better known recordings, it is merely the tip of the iceberg. If this is your first exposure to him, check him out on or in any good record/CD store. A world of incredible music awaits.

Like it was with garage bands in the 60s,  in the mid-to-late 50s there were many unknown R&B artists getting into Rock and Roll and making fantastic one-off records in the process. "Will You Please" by Danny Taylor is a great example. Until I discovered it on some long out of print comp I had no idea who he was and I still know nothing whatsoever about him. But damn, what an amazing record!...Moving ahead 30 years, Barence Whitfield & The Savages played in the same style. I got to see them a number of times back in the early 80s and they put on some of the wildest shows I've ever seen. I believe Barence is still performing today though he's mellowed out a bit...Booker T & The MGs have made a whole slew of great records and "Time Is Tight" is one of their best. It almost never fails to fill up a dancefloor.

From the summer of 1966 "Love's Made A Fool of You" is one of my favorite records ever. I still have the original 45 I bought at the time and it's totally discolored from being played so much. And ya know what? It still sounds great and loud as hell..."Bad Part of Town" by The Bare Facts is a nice organ driven mid-60s garage punker. I'm not sure if this Ohio combo made any other records but this one is enough to earn them a place in the heart of record collectors everywhere..."Unguarded Moment" was a big favorite in what has come to be known as the Paisley Underground scene back in the 80s and it still sounds great to me today...I hadn't heard "Celeste" for many years until I bought Mojo magazine's "Acid Drops..." box awhile back. Nobody conveys the bittersweet innocence of youth like Donovan in this haunting ballad.

When the Buzzcocks got back together in the early 90s I never expected them to come up with anything new that would rival their early classics. "Last To Know" I am happy to say, proved me dead wrong..."I'm So Happy" is another one of my all-time favorite records. So bubbly and upbeat without sounding like a Hallmark Moment, there's no way I can not hit the repeat button when this comes on the Ipod. Tra-la-la-la-la indeed!...Sugar Pie Desanto had a few minor hits on the Chess group of labels back in the mid-60s but she cut this pounder under the auspices of James Brown a few years earlier...I first heard "The Boo Boo Song" at a record party where Norton honcho Billy Miller was spinnin' and afterwards I was singing that stupid chorus in my head for the next 3 days. A modern day classic and available on King Coleman's "It's Dance Time" collection on the (not so coincidentally) Norton label.  

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things
Danny Taylor - Will Ya Please
Barence Whitfield & The Savages - Mama Get The Hammer
Booker T. & The MGs - Time Is Tight
The Bobby Fuller Four - Love's Made A Fool Of You
The Bare Facts - Bad Part Of Town
The Church - The Unguarded Moment
Donovan - Celeste
The Buzzcocks - Last To Know
Lewis Lymon & the Teenchords - I'm So Happy
Sugar Pie Desanto - A Little Taste of Soul
King Coleman – The Boo Boo Song Pt. 1

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