Friday, October 31, 2008

Back From the Ipod Pt. 2

Today and this whole weekend it is sunny and in the 60s, possibly for the last time in awhile. So being the 'man of leisure' (some might say 'bum') that I am, I've been enjoying one of my favorite pastimes, taking long walks around town while listening to my trusty Ipod. And that is what has inspired this latest posting. Just a random sampling of tunes from my own private jukebox. Like last time, I am appeasing the Itunes gods and goddesses by presenting them in the exact order in which they played back. A one and a two and a one two three...

Alvin Robinson - I'm Gonna Put Some Hurt on You
Taking a cue from Huey Piano Smith, Alvin Robinson gets the proceedings started with a bouncing mid-tempo New Orleans shuffle. Despite the threatening tone of the lyrics the song as a whole has an irresistible good-time feeling to it.
The Beatles - I Feel Fine [Mono]
As just about any Beatles fanatic/collector knows, many of their records, especially their singles were mixed differently for various markets around the world. This was especially true for the U.S. single mix of "I Feel Fine" where they added a ton of reverb, especially on the choruses and harmonies. The part where they sing "I'm so glad...' sounds like there must be a thousand voices harmonizing all at once. Hearing it on my 3-inch table radio speakers back in 1964, nothing ever sounded quite so mesmerizing - and actually it still has the same effect today.    
Chris Bell - I Don't Know
From the "I Am The Cosmos" album, this track is more rocking but it still retains the same kind of ethereal charm as the title track. Unfortunately he was killed in a car crash not long after these sessions and one can't help but wonder where his considerable talent would've taken him had he lived. 
Cuby & The Blizzards - Stumble And Fall
This is a perfect example of the snotty brand of Stones/Pretties influenced R&B that many of the Dutch bands were known for back in the mid-60s. "Stumble..." was Cuby & Co's first 45 and while they continued to record into this century, for many fans this was their best. 
Fever Tree - I Can Beat Your Drum
"San Francisco Girls" was a a minor hit for this Houston Texas combo in the summer of 1968 but "...Drum" was a much more punkified affair that came out a few years earlier. While they went on to release a few albums in the late 60s, many collectors (myself included) consider this their finest moment.
Howard Mayberry & Sangamon Boys - This Just Can't Be Puppy Love
I know absolutely nothing about this record besides the fact that it's on a few different Rockabilly comps that have come out over the years. With lyrics like  "She's my sweetie pie, she's my turtle dove, this just can't be puppy love" sung to a rockin' backbeat, how can anyone resist?  
Jerry McCain - A Cutie Named Judy
Rock and Roll just doesn't get much cruder than this. Jerry recorded a number of songs back in the mid-50's in the same vein and they're all just as wacked-out as "Cutie". I don't think his Rhino CD is still in print but Norton Records released most of them in their jukebox 45 series a few years ago and they're well worth buying (see the Norton link in my previous post). He's still recording and while his new material isn't as wild, he's got a great voice and he's always been an excellent harmonica player.
Love - You I'll Be Following [Mono]
A friend of mine pointed me to a website where they are showing the Love documentary. For anyone who is a fan of the band, it's a must see. I'm not sure how long it's going to be there so better check it out while you still can.  As much as I love "Forever Changes", their first album has been a favorite of mine ever since I discovered it in EJ Korvettes' record department when I was 15. I can only imagine what it must have been like seeing them live back in the day.  
Marble Orchard - Love's Just Begun
Formed from the ashes of The Surf Trio, this Oregon trio released a few singles and an album, "Savage Sleep" on Estrus Records back in the early 90s. This is from that album, copies of which can be found on Amazon for around 6 bucks. I remember thinking at the time that had he not tragically ended his own life, this would have been a perfect song for Del Shannon to cover.
Mega City 4 - Severe Attack Of The Truth
This is from Mega's first album "Transphobia" recorded in 1989. While their overall style never varied much, their combination of driving punky riffs, catchy melodies and heartfelt lyrics was nothing less than exhilarating. Sadly, lead singer Wiz passed away in December of 2006.   
The Olivers - I Saw What You Did
I'm still jealous of a good friend of mine who found a near mint copy of this garage classic at a WFMU record show for $15 a few years ago. Luckily for the rest of us, this organ fueled stomper is available, loud and proud on a number of garage comps. 
The Pooh Sticks - Heroes And Villians
Not the Beach Boys classic of the same name, this is nonetheless a nice bright pop tune. Mainly a studio conglomeration put together by producer/songwriter Steve Gregory and vocalist Hue Williams, their discography, according to Wikipedia, is rather lengthy. While I haven't heard all or even most of it, what I have heard is quite enjoyable in a bubbly sort of way.  
Thelonious Monk - Humph
Thelonious Monk is a household name among Jazz fans, as much for his compositions as his piano playing. Listening to this I can almost hear the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Picture this playing in some movie while they're showing sped-up scenes of cars whizzing by and people scurrying every which way.   
Sonny Hall & The Echoes - My Big Fat Baby
Sonny Hall and his cohorts held nothing back on this Rockabilly classic. "My Big Fat Baby" has been featured on a number of compilations over the years and it's not hard to see why. After a mere two minutes of this totally over-the-top screamer you almost need to catch your breath.
The Vycounts - Can't You Tell
Slowing things down a bit, I can never play this nifty little folk-rock nugget just once whenever it comes on the Ipod. On a bigger label with a slightly beefier production this would have 'hit' written all over it. At least it would've back in 1965 which is when, at least by the sound of it, this little gem was most likely recorded  
Wendy Rene - Bar-B-Q
An homage to good old southern home cooking, this has, ironically enough, become somewhat of a Northern Soul and Mod favorite over the last few years. With that bouncin', boppin' New Orleans style beat I can see how this would be a real dancefloor filler.
The Yum Yums - Digging On You
The Yum Yums sound like they could be Norway's answer to the Ramones or the Real Kids. Yes, they really are that good.  Taken from their (unfortunately out of print) best-of compilation, this is just one of many songs that in a more Rock & Roll friendly world, would be making them rich and famous. 
Cliffon Chenier - Hot Rod
Going back to Louisiana, Clifton Chenier recorded and toured extensively from the mid-50s until his death in 1987. There's something about the sound he got out of his accordion - so rich and sweet and  bluesy all at once - that's such a sheer pleasure to listen to. "Hot Rod" is one of his more Rock & Roll styled tracks. 
The Nashville Teens - Find My Way Back Home
There's not much I need to say about this Nashville Teens stomper. If I had to put together an all-time favorite Top 10, I'm sure this song would be there. If it doesn't get you at least tapping your feet and smiling, you might need to get your pulse checked.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The People Speak But Nobody Listens

Besides the presidential election and the failing economy, here in New York City the big news has been the issue of term limits for elected officials. In 1993 and again in 1996 the people of NYC voted to limit elected officials to two terms in office. But this year because of the economic problems that are facing the city (so he says) Michael Bloomberg decided to try and get the City Council to rescind that law. And in fact he succeeded. So what the people voted for twice was made null and void by the few who would most benefit from having that law removed. Whatever happened to "by the people and for the people"? Is this the way our democracy is supposed to work? And worse, what kind of precedent does this set? Ironically I would've liked to see Mayor Bloomberg run for a third term in office. And if the term limits issue came to a voters referendum a third time I would probably have voted to rescind it. Now I'm not so sure I'd vote for him. The way the Mayor and the Council have gone behind the peoples' backs to further their own self interests is a disgrace.

Last time I promised that my next post would be a bit more of a rockin' affair and so it is. I hope you folks out there in Cyberland enjoy it and go out and buy something by any or all of the featured artists. As always, readers comments are encouraged.

Bobby Marchan - Get Down With It
Along with Esquerita, Bobby Marchan was one of the few performers who could almost match Little Richard for sheer flamboyance. Here he turns in a nice performance of a song also recorded by The Georgia Peach back in the mid-60s although I'm not sure who did it first.
Doris Duke - I'd Do It All Over You
I don't know a whole lot about Doris Duke other than the fact that Ace Records has just released a retrospective of her best material (highly recommended by the way) and that's where I first heard this tasty slice of upbeat Southern Soul.
Dwight Yoakam - I Want You To Want Me
One mark of a great singer is to be able to take a song made popular by someone else and make it his own. And a mark of a classic song is that it can be done in a number of different styles and arrangements and still resonate true. Dwight Yoakam meeting up with Cheap Trick's first top-10 hit is both.
John Fogerty - Walking In A Hurricane
Anyone who's seen John Fogerty in concert recently knows that he hasn't lost one iota of energy or fire over the years. This song is from "Blue Moon Swamp" which to my ears is one the best albums he's ever done, easily in a class with the best Creedence records.
King Curtis - Take Me Out to the Ballgame
It's World Series time and even though my beloved Yankees aren't in it this year, it's always great to hear this perennial baseball favorite played again before we start counting the days until Spring Training. 
The Lovin' Spoonful - You Didn't Have to be So Nice
I know that over the years this song has been played to death on thousands of oldies stations all around the world but I can't think of any song that better captures that moment when casual friendship turns to something deeper. 
The Maltees Four - All Of The Time
From El Lay, these guys were one of the many Byrds influenced bands who had their one small shot at fame and were promptly forgotten. There's nothing remotely original or special going on here but nonetheless it's a really nice record.
Nick Lowe - Cracking Up
Nick Lowe is one of those artists who's been recording and performing for close to 4 decades but still remains underappreciated or unknown by the great majority of music fans who should probably know better. He's never been flashy or trendy, but he's always been about clever, insightful songs that don't take themselves too seriously. If Cole Porter had been born in the Rock & Roll era he might have been Nick Lowe.    
The Outcasts - Set Me Free
According to the garage comp database there were at least 12 garage bands around the world recording under the name The Outcasts. These particular Outcasts were from Philadelphia and this was (probably) their only single. 
Paul Collins Beat - Don't Wait Up
I never got to see a show by Paul Collins Beat but judging from this recording from the Unversal Theater in Spain from 1986 they were quite an exciting live act. I don't think this has ever been released officially but I'm pretty sure their studio albums are still in print and well worth seeking out.
Stiv Bators - Not That Way Anymore (Alternate Version)
While I always liked The Dead Boys, to me they were always at least as much about attitude as they were about music. And considering the state of the music industry in the late 70's it was exactly what Rock & Roll needed to wake itself up. But Stiv Bators' solo material was more about radio-friendly catchy songs with hooky choruses. This song, along with his cover of the Choir's "It's Cold Outside" was always one of my favorites.
Tiny Topsy - Aw Shucks Baby
This bluesy little shouter was recorded for Federal Records back in 1957. Not too surprisingly 'Tiny' was actually any thing but and from the sound of it, she was very influenced by Big Maybelle.  
Travis Wammack - Night Train
"Night Train" has been recorded by many artists over the years but this version has always been my favorite. Pure guitar mania from start to finish.
Tyrone Schmidling - You're Gone, I'm Left
With a name like Schmidling it's got to be good. And in fact it is. VERY. Two minutes of totally out of control chaos. Available from Norton Records on a 45 with a really neat picture sleeve and his wild version  of Carl Perkin's "Honey Don't" on the flip. 
Hitch Hikers - Buggy's 
It still amazes me to learn just how all-encompassing Rock and Roll's influence was back in the 60s (and probably even earlier). Today with the internet everything is right at your fingertips just about anywhere on the globe but back then it was a totally different story. Hitch Hikers were from Lebanon and I'm guessing this was recorded around 1967. 
Boy Berger - Wulle Wulle
Here we have another foreign language version of "Wooly Bully", this time from Germany. I totally love that over-the-top sax break in the middle. 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Morning, 2AM

I've been feeling a bit down these last few days. On Wednesday I had an interview for a job that I didn't get. And I think it's starting to hit home more and more just how difficult finding a new job is likely going to be, given the current economic climate and the fact that I've spent the last 15-plus years working in the finance industry which is being eaten alive by its own greed. There were definitely some drawbacks to the job I went for. For one the corporate culture is strictly suit and tie, and the work, according to the woman I'd be reporting directly to, was described as 'monotonous and painstakingly detailed'. Not necessarily the best fit for a programmer who's forte is being able to think up creative solutions to business problems or, to use a cliche, 'think outside the box'. Not that I wouldn't have jumped at the chance if it was offered to me but alas, it wasn't. So this latest mix is somewhat reflective of my mood lately. It's not all depressing and self-pitying or anything, just not quite as wild as some of my posts have been. But don't worry, I've already got my next post almost all picked out and it's a lot more 'bright and bon vivant' as Paul Simon once said.  

The Bee Gees - In My Own Time (mono)
Despite the fact that they came to represent much of what was so irritating about the musical 70s, the Bee Gees first few albums were just fine, especially "Bee Gee's 1st" from which this is taken.  
The Byrds - Goin' Back
A few people have tried their hand at this Goffin/King classic, including the author herself, but to me this is the definitive version. Along with Side two of the British "A Hard Day's Night" album, side one of "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" is one of my favorite album sides ever and "Goin' Back" is definitely a highlight.
The Cyrkle - Words
Originally the flip side of their "Penny Arcade" 45, I first became familiar with this song when I heard it on one of a few different 60s light psych compilations circulating in blogland. That chorus always sounds amazing when it comes on my Ipod while I am walking around town on a nice sunny day.
Livingston Taylor - Good Friends
I got the first Livingston Taylor album when I was 19 and for the last 38 years this song has always had the power to just stop me dead in my tracks. It's not your typical boy-girl love song but instead, it's about the kind of human bonding that is even more basic. Girlfriends and boyfriends will come and go but a good friendship can last forever. Even now as I'm playing these songs to write about them, I've had to listen to this one 3 times.
P.P. Arnold - The First Cut Is The Deepest
So many people have recorded this Cat Stevens song, especially since Rod Stewart had the hit with it back in 1977. Unfortunately, anyone who's done it since then has taken it from his version which leaves what is perhaps the most important line totally out of the song. 10 points to the first person who knows what that line is. Leave your answer(s) in the comments section. 
Robyn Hitchcock - The Man Who Invented Himself
It's time to stop taking things so seriously. And there's nobody better at putting a little bit of whimsy into the proceedings than Robyn Hitchcock. I've been lucky enough to see him in concert a number of times over the last 20 years, most recently opening up for Nick Lowe, and he's always delightful.    
The Rumbles Ltd. - Try A Lttle Harder
I know absolutely nothing about this record or the group. But it is a delicious slice of late 60s harmony pop-sike. Why this wasn't at least a minor hit I can't understand. Oh well, shoulda, coulda, woulda. If anyone out there has some info on them, please drop me a note.
Sandy Coast - I'm A Fool
Back in the 80s when there was a new 60s garage comp coming out almost every week (or so it seemed) a number of them were dedicated to Dutch beat groups, the most popular of which had longer hair and even worse attitudes than the Stones or Pretty Things, from whom they took their inspiration. And for quite awhile many people (myself included) thought that all Nederbeat groups were in the same mold. So it took me a little time to learn to appreciate these guys with their Byrdsy 12-string folk-rock sound. They actually had a number of great records and continued recording well into the 80s.
Teenage Fanclub - I Need Direction
Listening to all the wonderfully hook-filled albums and singles that TFC have recorded over their 15-plus year career it almost seems as if they can come up with these timeless pop masterpieces in their sleep. With all their rare single b-sides and covers these guys are just so ripe for a multi-disc box set.
Squeeze - Is That Love
Speaking of needing a box set, Squeeze are another band who've been doing their thing for years and could also do with a comprehensive retrospective. Back in the 80s they were New Wave darlings for a few years and then seemed to be taken for granted by many of their fans. 
John & Paul - I'm Walkin' 
From 1964 this is another one I know little about (except that it's pretty obvious where they got their name). According to Gemm Music this was on the Tip label and they also had an album that was mostly covers.   
The "You Know Who" Group - My Love (Roses Are Red)
With their phony accent The "You Know Who" group were obviously cashing in on the whole British Beat craze in late 1964. Crass commercialization and cliched to the max it may have been but it's a damn fine record nonetheless (or perhaps even because).
Velvet Elvis - When It Comes
VE's album from which this is taken came and went in a heartbeat back in the late 80s and nobody cared. It took the fine folks at Power Pop Lovers to rediscover this lost classic - for which I am eternally grateful.
Brian Wilson - Love And Mercy
So much has been said and written about Brian Wilson that there is almost nothing I can add except to say that I absolutely love the man. From the moment I first heard him sing his incredible falsetto back when I was 13 I knew I shared a spiritual bond with him that would last as long as either one of us were alive. I wish we could take all of the politicians of the world, lock them in a room and play this song over and over again until they got it.   
Roger Miller - Where Have All the Average People Gone
Best known for his novelty country hits like "Dang Me" and Chug A Lug", he was also capable of more serious fare. This is a deceptively simple song about fitting in (or not) and still maintaining your personal equilibrium. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

3CLFS - Pt. 1

When talking to people about the kind of music I like I often describe it as 3CLFS - 3-chord loud fast and stupid. And I don't mean that in any kind of flippant or derogatory way. But when you think about a lot of the best Rock & Roll over the last (gasp!) 50 years, much of it is just pure dumb fun. Or else it's some guy/girl/group wailing away totally over the top, not being afraid to make total asses of themselves. And while most of the time it doesn't work, which is why there are so many mediocre records out there, when it does, the result is 2 minutes of pure crazy perfection. This is the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series of records that, for me, walk the right side of that fine line between crap and genius.

Art Adams, no doubt influenced by Elvis Presley, recorded this classic bopper on the Cherry label in 1959. Back in the day he only put a couple of singles but there was a whole lot of unreleased stuff that finally saw the light of day on a Collector Records CD a few years ago. He is still performing today...While many people have recorded "Louie Louie" over the years, I've yet to hear a version as crude and wild as this one by The Swamp Rats..."Don't Make No Noise" by Chris Kenner was just one of many unbelievably great records recorded in New Orleans back in the early 60s. Listen to that drumming - incredible!

I'd venture a guess that back in nineteen-sixty-whenever, nobody whatsoever gave a damn but somehow over the last 20 years The Deacon's "Baldy Stomp" has become a frat-rock classic. Shake and stomp baby!...Among garage band fans Dean Carter is best known for his wacked-out version of "Jailhouse Rock" but when Big Beat released an anthology of all his recordings a few years ago it was chock full of wonderfully demented (mostly unreleased) songs. "Fever" is one of my favorites. I love the classic versions by Peggy Lee and Little Willie John but DC puts a whole new spin on it...."I Want My Woman" by The Emperors is another garage band favorite and has been covered by a slew of bands over the years. I can still hear John Faye's screaming vocals when the Tryfles used to blast away at this one back at The Dive in NYC in the mid 80s.

"10 Long Fingers" by Groovey Joe Poovey is a homage to Jerry Lee Lewis. Despite the fact that this is a total imitation of The Killer, it's a fine rocker in it's own right...Even before the internet, back in the 60s, Rock and Roll was being played by beat crazy teens in the most remote corners of the globe. From Finland, Andy & The Islanders turn in a fine version of "Farmer John"..."That's Rock and Roll" shows a rockin' side of Johnny Rivers that his later hits only hinted at. Had he not become famous this would still be regarded as a rockabilly classic...Les Sexareenos have been performing since 2000 or so and in a time when so much new music is getting either more corporate or just too damn precious and artsy, this gang of lunatics out of Montreal are keeping the true 'what the f*&K' spirit of Rock and Roll alive.

To me, Little Richard was one of the first real wildmen of Rock and Roll, in an age when it was difficult, maybe even dangerous to be so. Imagine the reaction of Mr. and Mrs. White America back in the Eisenhower years when they first heard this screaming black queen go totally bonkers. And then realized that their impressionable little kiddies were diggin' the crap out of it. Ooh my Soul!!!...Back in the 60s, just like in the US, all across South and Central America garage bands were sprouting up playing their versions of the hits of the day and quite often, adding their own magic to the mix. Peru's Los Shains do a terrific job on this Sam the Sham and the Pharohs favorite.

Over the years a whole slew of bands have covered Larry Williams' "Bad Boy" but the A-Bones version is by far my favorite. What really seals the deal for me is Miriam Linna's manic caterwauling at the end of the song...One of the things I love about Mark Sultan (aka King Khan) is how he mixes in a doo-wop influence with his basic low-fi garage sound. You don't hear that very often. I saw him play at the South Street Seaport over the summer and his new band has more of a funk thing going on but I prefer the earlier material...I love Roky Erickson's version of the old R&B staple "Crazy Crazy Mama". His band really kicks in and his vocals are as intense as ever. It would've been nice to see him do this live when I saw him last year.

"Why" by the Durty Wurds is another garage classic that's been covered by a zillion bands over the years but I've never heard anyone come close to the original...I'd never heard Willy Baby's "Hot Buns" until I got the "All Night Soul Stomp" compilation. Latin soul silliness at its finest. Ole!...When I was 11 years old I used to play "It's A Gas" constantly. There's a point about 1:45 into the song where he does 3 short burps in a row. Not realizing that this was achieved by means of a tape splice, I spent countless hours practicing, trying to do that. I still have yet to master it.

Art Adams - Rock Crazy Baby
Bob Hocko and the Swamp Rats - Louie Louie
Chris Kenner - Don't Make No Noise
The Deacons - The Baldie Stomp
Dean Carter - Fever
The Emperors - I Want My Woman
Groovey Joe Poovey - Ten Long Fingers
Andy & The Islanders - Farmer John
Johnny Rivers - That's Rock And Roll
Les Sexareenos - Wild Wild Wild
Little Richard - Ooh! My Soul
Los Shains - Bule Bule
The A-Bones - Bad Boy
Mark Sultan - Two Left Feet
Roky Erickson - Crazy Crazy Mama
The Durty Wurds - Why
Willy Baby - Hot Buns
Alfred E. Newman - It's A Gas

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

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Back from the Ipod Pt. 1

Yesterday was my first day of unemployment. It seems the powers that be at the bank where I worked for 11 years have decided that some kid in India can do my job as good as I can. Or at least cheaper. My father who worked in retail for a number of years in a high-end men's clothing store used to say "You get what you pay for" and I suspect in time they will find this out. But for the moment it means I am out of work. I got a pretty good severance package so I'm not gonna starve or be out on the street but my first priority has got to be finding another job. And with the financial world in the tizzy that it's been in lately that might not be too easy. So if anyone out there is looking for an overpaid flunky with a bizarre sense of humor and an uncanny knowledge of useless Rock & Roll trivia, please let me know. 

My Ipod has completely changed the way I listen to music. The thing I like about it most is that I never know what song is coming next. I don't usually load whole albums but instead I prefer to make playlists of about 150 -180 songs, enough to fit on one 700mb CD-R. It seems that Itunes has it's own way of ordering them, that is usually vaguely alphabetical by artist, but not consistently. I have never been able to figure out the method to their madness but I've grown to really appreciate it from an aesthetic point of view. Some of the segues have been truly sublime while others have been totally off the wall. One that comes to mind is when "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen was followed by a Motorhead song. So when I came up with this latest post I had an idea of how I wanted the songs to flow but I when I played it in Itunes it got totally rearranged. So, to appease the Ipod gods, I'm gonna list them in the order they play. At least on my machine. 

Most of the records that came out of the Group Sounds scene in Japan back in the mid-60s sound kinda lame now. Many were just watered down versions of US and English hits of the day. But among those in the top 5 or 10 percent, are some absolute stone classics. "Why Baby Why", an original by the Beavers with it's Merseybeat type harmonies and background 'wooos' is definitely one of them...As I promised last week, here is Big Maybelle's gutsy version of "96 Tears". I actually like it as much as the original. I found an copy of the 45 on Gemm Music last year for about $20... I always dug  "Please Crawl Out Your Window" by Bob Dylan and here it is from the "Highway 61 Revisited Again" bootleg in an alternate version. It's not quite as rockin' as the officially released 45 and the sound quality is a little rough but it's still worth hearing.

Over the last 20 years Dom Mariani has been involved with a number of bands and has produced some of the best records that almost nobody has heard. Living in Australia he doesn't make it to New York very often but I've been fortunate enough to see him a few times, once solo and twice with a reformed Stems. DM3 was his second band and "1X..." was the closest they got to having a hit. Their CDs are all out of print and hard to find but last year Get Hip put out a best-of by The Stems. If you've been enjoying the music I've been posting so far anything by either band is highly recommended...I first read about Ellis Hooks in Mojo magazine a few years ago. Nothing very complicated or new here - just upbeat, funky, rockin' blues played with passion and style. He has a few albums out but this song is from "Uncomplicated" which you can find for download on Emusic. It's great to see artists like him and Shemekia Copeland keeping this music alive without sounding all reverent or academic about it.

"Ooh Little Girl" by Floyd Dixon is a perfect example of what happened in the mid-50s when blues shouters and supper club singers wanted to keep current and get down with the new Rock and Roll thing. With what sounds like Little Richard's studio band behind him, he succeeds a lot better than many of his contemporaries...Ditto for H-Bomb Ferguson who released a slew of records on a number of different labels. "Midnight Ramblin' Tonight" came out on King and is another great R&B pounder...The Hoodoo Gurus were another Australian band who recorded many wonderful records in the 80s and 90s that went absolutely nowhere despite being released on a major label. "I Want You Back" is from "Stoneage Romeos", their first and best album. Try to find an original Australian pressing (with the yellow cover)  as the US version was remixed and not very well at that.

The Lykes of Us were one of hundreds of bands across North America who, after hearing the Beatles, Stones, Kinks etc. etc. decided that they could do it too and then did. "Tell Me Why Your Light Shines" is an inspired classic, easily up there with the contemporary hits of the day by their heros. Of course after that they were never heard from again but I'm sure they were big wheels in their home town of Trenton, Michigan at least for a few weeks...Fast forward to now and The Lyres are also playing the same kind of music, influenced by the same bands. Jeff Conolly, the lead singer and keyboard player is the main force behind this Boston combo and his incredibly soulful vocals and organ playing definitely set them apart from the hundreds of other bands currently out there playing 60s garage inspired music. They've been responsible for some of the best shows I have ever seen over the last 25 years. 

Another Japanese GS band, The Outcasts perform the wildest and most demented version of "Long Tall Sally" I have ever heard. It makes me wonder just what they were thinking (or ingesting) when they went into the studio to record. But whatever it was, 40 plus years later we are left with this insane gem of a record. If anyone has an original copy for trade or sale, please get in touch...From Japan we take a short hop back over to Australia one last time this go round for "Last Night" by The Scientists. It's from their "Pissed on Another Planet" collection which documents their early years when they were more of a pop/punk band. Later in their career they developed more of a psych/grunge edge but personally I like the Mk1 version of the band better.

In addition to having a hit back in 1966 with "Baby Scratch My Back" Slim Harpo wrote a number of songs that were recorded by other bands such as "I'm A King Bee" by The Stones.  "You'll Be Sorry One Day" is one of many great sides he did for Excello Records. Listening to it  I can almost feel the heat of the deep south swampy bayou on my back...The Vacant Lot were major players in the NYC garage/punk scene of the early 90s. Their approach was very simple -Mersey and surf inspired pop played at breakneck speeds. I saw these guys a ton of times back in the day and their shows were never anything less than a total blast...Although I never actually looked at the writers credits, I always assumed that "Outcast", on the Animal's "Animalism" album was written by the band. But when I heard the original by Eddie and Ernie I realized that not only did Eric Burden & Co. not write it but they pretty much stole the arrangement note for note. Not that that's a bad thing as I really love both versions.

"My Confusion" by The Elite has been on a number of 60s garage comps over the years but most fans of the genre know it from "Back From The Grave". Like many similar bands of the day, these guys had their 2:10 of total Rock & Roll brilliance and were never heard from again. I used to have this friend who was a total Beatles and Stones freak. And she would always talk about how they changed Rock and Roll, and our culture in general forever. And of course she was right. But to me, bands like The Elite, The Lykes of Us and the other lesser known bands who had one or two great records and then fell through the cracks, were/are what Rock and Roll has always been about. That what-the f*&k, give it all we've got for 2 minutes and then get out attitude...Speaking of 2 minutes of greatness and then fading away, "Chills and Fever" by Ronnie Love was just that. I love that creepy horn riff in there. Before he became a household name Tom Jones had a minor hit with this song and his version is actually pretty good too.

One last thing. Doing this blog is really lots of fun but I'd also like a little feedback - good, bad or indifferent. So please leave comments.   

The Beavers - Why Baby Why
Big Maybelle - 96 Tears
Bob Dylan - Can You Please Crawl Out Of Your Window
DM3 – 1X2X Devastated
Ellis Hooks - Can't Take This No More
Floyd Dixon - Oooh Little Girl
H-Bomb Ferguson - Midnight Ramblin' Tonight
The Hoodoo Gurus - I Want You Back
The Lykes Of Us - Tell Me Why Your Light Shines
The Lyres - Baby It's Me
The Out Cast - Long Lall Sally
The Scientists - Last Night
Slim Harpo - You'll be Sorry One Day
The Vacant Lot - Good As Gone
Eddie & Ernie – Outcast
The Elite - My Confusion
Ronnie Love - Chills and Fever