Saturday, 10 September 2016

Rockin' With Ricky

Ricky Nelson - Rockin' With Ricky
ACE Records CH85

Side A
Mighty Good
Milkcow Blues
If You Can't Rock Me
Be-Bop Baby
There's Good Rockin' Tonight
It's Late
Waitin' In School

Side B
Shirley Lee
There Goes My Baby
Boppin' The Blues
I Got A Feeling
My Babe
Stood Up
Down The Line

For many, Ricky Nelson is considered part of the clean cut wave of manufactured 'Bobbies' that flooded the charts after Elvis got drafted, teen idols produced by record companies desperate to regain control from the rock 'n' roll phenomenon. I first heard them called 'Bobbies' by Jerry Lee Lewis and the name fits as most of them were called Bobby. But to lump Ricky Nelson in with them is doing him a serious disservice. Despite the fact that he was a radio, TV and film star who had a very clean cut image and was very photogenic he could rock 'n' roll with the best of them, as this album proves.

The fourteen tracks on this LP were recorded for Imperial Records between 1957 and 1960 and showcase Ricky's rock 'n' roll and rockabilly credentials. Any of them stand comparison with any of the acknowledged greats of the time. Every track on this album is great, six of them made it into the Billboard top 40 and three of them into the UK top 40. Most of the tracks are cover versions but they all stand up to the originals and sometimes surpass them. For instance compare Ricky's 'Milkcow Blues' with Elvis' (not the original, I know, but most likely the version covered), personally I'm not sure who did it better. Ricky's version is a prime slab of rockabilly, recorded in 1960 when most rockabilly/rock 'n' roll artists had moved into country or pop. That's not to say that Ricky was not a pop singer, he was, and a lot of the good stuff was hidden away on the B-sides of pop singles, which is the case for 'Milkcow Blues', but name me one Elvis single from 1960, A or B-side, that rocked as much.

The guitarist on all theses tracks is a young James Burton, just starting out on his career. The "Master of the Telecaster" would go on to play with just about everybody in country and rock 'n' roll, most famously he led Elvis' TCB Band in Vegas. He's currently touring but it seems that he's mostly doing the Elvis Vegas stuff rather than anything on this album. Still worth going to see though, I would if I was well enough, he's playing locally.

I was given this album for my seventeenth birthday, almost thirty(!) years ago, and it's always been a favourite. I could easily pick any of the tracks on this album to share with you but I've gone for 'Milkcow Blues' because it's fantastic and I've spent half of this post banging on about, his amazing version of Little Walter's 'My Babe' and one of his biggest hits 'Stood Up'. I hope that if you consider Ricky a 'Bobby' these tracks will change your mind. Play loud............

(To compare with Elvis, click here)

Monday, 11 July 2016


You may have noticed a lack of blog posts over the past couple of weeks, this does not mean there won't be any more. Unfortunately I've not been doing too well recently and have not been able to post anything. Think of this as a (hopefully) brief intermission, as soon as the pain subsides enough and I can see and think a bit clearer, I'll start posting again. In the mean time please enjoy any of my previous posts that you may not have read. There will be more......

Monday, 27 June 2016

Work Song

Nat Adderley - Work Song
Originally Released By RIVERSIDE Records in 1960

01 - Work Song
02 - Pretty Memory
03 - I've Got A Crush On You
04 - Mean To Me
05 - Fallout
06 - Sack Of Woe
07 - My Heart Stood Still
08 - Violets For Furs
09 - Scrambled Eggs

Nat Adderley - Cornet
Wes Montgomery - Guitar
Bobby Timmons - Piano
Sam Jones - Bass, Cello
Keter Betts - Bass, Cello
Percy Heath - Bass
Louis Hayes - Drums

Nat Adderley's career is often overshadowed by his brother Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley whose side man he was for many years. But the cornet player made many fine albums of his own and this, in my opinion, is his finest. Recorded in January 1960 this hard bop album is a classic with a very distinctive sound. On many of the tracks a pizzicato cello is to the fore along with the cornet creating a sound that I've certainly never come across before or since (if there are others, let me know I need to hear them).

As well as a distinctive sound the album contains the first outings of two tracks that would go on to be jazz standards, 'Work Song' and ''Sack Of Woe'. 'Work Song', written by Nat, has been covered by an incredible amount of artists including Cannonball Adderley and lyrics were added by Oscar Brown Jr. (posts on him to come) later in 1960. Nat has described 'Work Song' as his retirement song. 'Sack Of Woe' or 'Sack O' Woe' was written by Cannonball Adderley and again has been covered by numerous artists and not just in the jazz field but soul and rock too. Lyrics were added in 1963 by master vocalist Jon Hendricks (posts on him to come). The rest of the tracks on the album are a mix of uptempo numbers and ballads that really work well together and stand many, many listens, a true classic.

Here are my favourite tracks from the album; 'Work Song', 'Mean To Me' featuring some amazing guitar work by Wes Montgomery and 'Sack Of Woe', and if that's not enough (and it shouldn't be) the whole album can be heard here on Spotify. Enjoy......

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Muddy Waters EP

Muddy Waters - Muddy Waters EP

Side A
You Shook Me
Little Brown Bird

Side B
You Need Love
Muddy Waters Twist

This is a very influential EP. Recorded in 1962 and released in the UK in 1963 it features two tracks that would go on to shape rock music for generations to come. With the exception of 'Muddy Waters Twist', Muddy's voice was overdubbed on to instrumental tracks already recorded by Earl Hooker. The A-side contains two slow blues numbers while the B-side contains two upbeat numbers. It is the first track on each side that are the influential and most covered ones. Both of these songs were written by the bass player/producer/songwriter genius Willie Dixon.

'You Shook Me' was famously covered by both Led Zeppelin and the Jeff Beck Group. Jeff Beck recorded it in 1968 for the 'Truth' album and Led Zeppelin recorded it for their debut album in 1969. Both versions are very similar and have lead to accusations that Led Zeppelin 'stole' the idea from Jeff Beck. No one seems to worry about the similarity to the original though!

It is 'You Need Love' that is the most famous track here though. It was covered by the Small Faces on their debut album for Decca in 1966 as 'You Need Loving' and was (and still is!) credited to Marriott/Lane no mention of Willie Dixon at all. Then in 1969 Led Zeppelin recorded it as 'Whole Lotta Love', again with no mention of Willie Dixon in the credits. Admittedly the music on both covers, especially Zeppelin's, is quite different to Muddy's original but the lyrics aren't. Subsequently, in 1985, Led Zeppelin have settled out of court with Willie Dixon and he now appears in the credits. So far the Small Faces seem to have got away with it.

Here's all the tracks of the EP in their original running order. If they inspire you to 'borrow' them to create a rock anthem don't forget to give credit to the original authors......

Time Has Come Today!

The Chambers Brothers - The Time Has Come
COLUMBIA Records - CL 2722 - 1967

Side A
All Strung Out Over You
People Get Ready
I Can't Stand It
Romeo And Juliet
In The Midnight Hour
So Tired

Side B
Please Don't Leave Me
What The World Needs Now Is Love
Time Has Come Today

By 1967 when the Chambers Brothers recorded this, their third album, they had been performing together for twelve years. Up until this point their music was mostly gospel based and they enjoyed a lot of popularity on the folk circuit and had recorded two albums for Vault Records (blog post to come). However, when they signed to Columbia their music shifted away from the folk scene to land smack in the middle of the burgeoning psychedelic scene of the 'Summer Of Love'.

The album is a fantastic mix of soul and psychedelic rock with covers of soul and pop hits as well as their own tunes. Storming soul tracks, such as 'All Strung Out Over You', 'The Midnight Hour' and 'I Can't Stand It' are interspersed with tracks that hark back to their gospel roots, including a beautiful version of 'People Get Ready'. But it is the last track on the album, the epic 'Time Has Come Today', that this album is most remembered for. At just over 11 minutes long this psychedelic opus has everything you could possibly want in a psychedelic record. The alternate striking of cowbells creates a tick-tock effect running through the whole track, with the edition of phasing, distortion, echo, fuzz guitars, screaming, manic laughing and a widely varying tempo it's quite disconcerting. There's even a few bars of 'Little Drummer Boy' in there. There are few records more psychedelic.

'The Time Has Come' is much more than just a vehicle for 'Time Has Come Today' though, it works very well as an album and stands many, many listens. It remains one of my all time favourites. So marvel at the beauty of 'People Get Ready', groove to 'I Can't Stand It' then prepare to have your soul psychedelicised by 'Time Has Come Today'........

Monday, 20 June 2016

Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party

Covers on all 5 LPs almost identical

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.1
WINS Records 1010

Side A
Pretzel - The Alan Freed Band
Maybelline - Chuck Berry
Out Of The Picture - The Robins
Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
Your Promise To Be Mine - The Drifters
Tear It Up - The Johnny Burnette Trio
Whistle My Love - The Moonglows

Side B
We Go Together - The Moonglows
Cherry Lips - The Robins
Please Be Mine - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
I Love Paris - The Robins
Oh Baby Babe - The Johnny Burnette Trio
Ruby Baby - The Drifters
Roll Over Beethoven - Chuck Berry

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.2
WINS Records 1011

Side A
Push It - The Alan Freed Band
A Kiss From Your Lips - The Flamingos
She Loves To Dance - The Flairs
Candy - Big Maybelle
Money Honey - Clyde McPhatter
Lilly Maebelle - The Valentines
Hound Dog - Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps

Side B
Be Bop A Lula - Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps
The Woo Woo Train - The Valentines
Treasure Of Love - Clyde McPhatter
Cry Baby - The Bonnie Sisters
In Self Defence - The Flairs
Ring Dilly Dilly - Big Maybelle
The Vow - The Flamingos

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.3
WINS Records 1012

Side A
Teen Rock - The Alan Freed Band
Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley & The Comets
Can't We Be Sweethearts - The Cleftones
Soldier Boy - The Four Fellows
Roll With Me Henry - Etta James
Why Did I Fall In Love? - The Jacks
(You've Got) The Magic Touch - The Platters

Side B
My Prayer - The Platters
Teenage Prayer - Gloria Mann
Little Girl Of Mine - The Cleftones
Why Don't You Write Me - The Jacks
I Sit In My Window - The Four Fellows
Crazy Feeling - Etta James
Hot Dog Buddy Buddy - Bill Haley & The Comets

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.4
WINS Records 1013

Side A
Flag Waver - The Alan Freed Band
I Promise To Remember - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
Ivory Tower - Otis Williams & The Charms
What's Your Name - Chuck Willis
The Verdict - The Five Keys
Love, Love, Love - The Clovers

Side B
Tweedle Dee - Lavern Baker
Foolishly/Runaround - The Three Chuckles
Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
It's Too Late - Chuck Willis
She's The Most - The Five Keys
Your Tender Lips - The Clovers
One Night Only - Otis Williams & The Charms

Various Artists - Alan Freed's Rock n' Roll Dance Party Vol.5
WINS Records 1014

Side A
Let's Face It - The Alan Freed Band
Earth Angel - The Penguins
See Saw - The Moonglows
Rip It Up - Bill Haley & The Comets
I Almost Lost My Mind - Ivory Joe Hunter
I'll Be True - Faye Adams
Woe Is Me - The Cadillacs

Side B
Speedo - The Cadillacs
Ice - The Penguins
You Mean Everything To Me - Ivory Joe Hunter
Rock, Rock, Rock - Jimmy Cavello & The House Rockers
When I'm With You - The Moonglows
Shake A Hand - Faye Adams
Saints Rock & Roll - Bill Haley & The Comets

The disc jockey Alan Freed is often credited for coining the phrase "rock & roll", he didn't. The phrase had been around for a long time as a euphemism for sex, particularly in the African-American community. He was, probably, the first to use it to describe a genre of music though, and it was through the popularity of his radio shows, TV Shows and 'in person' concert package tours that made it stick. His shows championed R&B, doo-wop, rockabilly and rock 'n' roll regardless of colour and race, which was ground breaking and controversial. He did a lot to promote the music of black acts to white audiences and was therefore very influential in the development of rock 'n' roll and the breaking down of racial barriers. This should be remembered over the payola scandals that ruined his career, the fact that he made money out of it through back-handers etc. is irrelevant, what he helped achieve is not.

These five records are taken from his 'Rock n' Roll Dance Party' radio shows aired during his time at WINS in New York in the mid to late 1950's. They feature the cream of R&B, doo-wop and rock 'n' roll artists performing live backed by the Alan Freed Band (featuring saxophonists Sam 'The Man' Taylor and Big Al Sears). Each one sounds like it's a complete show (and probably is) with all of Alan Freed's introductions included and a very excited audience. They are a real slice of history and an absolute joy to listen to. If you ever see them I strongly advise you to buy them, you won't regret it.

Here's just a small sample of the greatness of Alan Freed's Rock 'n Roll Dance Party (there's lots more to find on YouTube). Play loud.......

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Arthur Alexander - The Greatest

Arthur Alexander - The Greatest
Ace Records - CDCHD 922 - 1989

01 - Anna
02 - You're The Reason
03 - Soldier Of Love
04 - I Hang My Head And Cry
05 - You Don't Care
06 - Dream Girl
07 - Call Me Lonesome
08 - After You
09 - Where Have You Been
10 - A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues
11 - Don't You Know It
12 - You Better Move On
13 - All I Need Is You
14 - Detroit City
15 - Keep Her Guessing
16 - Go Home Girl
17 - In The Middle Of It All
18 - Whole Lot Of Trouble
19 - Without A Song
20 - I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
21 - Black Night

Arthur Alexander is quite rightly seen as a pioneer of the country-soul sound. In 1961 he recorded 'You Better Move On/A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues' at a fledgling Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Producer Rick Hall was convinced he had a hit and shopped it around to the major record companies in Nashville but none were interested. So he played it for influential DJ Noel Ball, who was a scout for Dot Records. He agreed with Hall's conviction and sent a copy to Dot's president Randy Wood, who gave it the go ahead. By early 1962 'You Better Move On/A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues' was heading up the Billboard charts, peaking at 24 after Arthur appeared on American Bandstand. This started a run of highly influential (if not overly successful) singles and albums for Arthur on Dot throughout the early sixties.

This CD contains the best of the recordings made by Arthur during his time at Dot Records, 1961 to 1965. The music is a glorious mix of R&B, country, early soul and pop which may explain why he didn't have great success. The American music industry was still very segregated at the time and music that had crossed divisions tended to fall down the cracks. This was not the case in the UK, most of the singles were released on the London label in the UK, but the market was limited. However, many that did buy the singles were in bands themselves and Arthur's songs became staples of the beat groups. Most famously 'You Better Move On' was covered by the Rolling Stones, 'Anna' by the Beatles and 'A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues' by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates.

Incidently, Rick Hall had a 2% lease deal on the master of 'You Better Move On/A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues'. This amounted to $10,000 which was enough to begin construction of a new Fame Studios where he would record two dozen million selling singles including Aretha Franklin's first major hit 'I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)'.

Here for your listening pleasure is Arthur singing 'You Better Move On', 'Anna' and 'Soldier Of Love'. Enjoy, you'll hear nothing better all day................

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